Director/writer Bernard Rose is a worshipped name in the horror genre. Rose helped evolve a short story by Clive Barker into a modern monster in the 1992 film Candyman. Rose gave us a ghost story set in the Cabrini Green neighborhood, a now torn down area of Chicago that was even too dangerous to drive by. While there was a supernatural aspect, that ghost was born out of our country’s violent history and led to spread fears of an unprotected community. Candyman is a great example of utilizing the genre for socio-political commentary without having to preach. It brought attention to real-life horrors and the unsettling nature of how our stories can be the death of us. Rose has had an interesting career in cinema, one that needs to be researched to discover, and now Arrow Video has resurged one of his critically acclaimed dramas. IVANS XTC is a new interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.”
As Ivan Beckman, Danny Huston delivers a no holds barred performance unlike anything else he’s done. A Hollywood agent with a love for cocaine and women, Ivan is forced to confront his own lack of substance as he is given the news that he is dying of cancer. His reaction leads to a binging on what was already killing him, realizing no redemption is to be found. Despite a cancer diagnosis, Beckman is rolling down a suicide path.
What makes his story more tragic is that IVANS XTC begins after his death. The news has spread across town and nobody seems to be bothered or even surprised. The first assumption is that it was a drug overdose, gossip thrown around with smirks and shrugs. This was almost expected, making his cancer diagnosis be the part where maybe an ounce of sympathy even shines. Shot on DV, it feels almost like the audience is forced to watch private home videos that have leaked. The truth about the Hollywood elite seems to be exposed. Rose is determined to tell the ugliness of his own perception of the land of dreams. There’s no musical numbers or a romance to root for.
Hollywood is an addiction that leads to sickness and to an eventual unmourned death. Arrow has allowed viewers to watch IVANS XTC in different ways. Aside from choosing between the theatrical cut and extended producer’s cut, the theatrical can be viewed in either 60i or 24fps. 60i is how the film was shot and is also the preferred way producer Lisa Enos wanted us to watch the movie. The extended is only available in 60i. Enos and filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft provide a new commentary. Fans will enjoy the more recent 2018 q&a included from a screening with Rose, Enos, Huston, Peter Weller, and Adam Krentzman. Like many of Arrow’s releases, this one comes with a first time pressing booklet with writing and photography on the film.
Driven by a once in a lifetime performance by Danny Huston, IVANS XTC is a harsh cinematic ride that has to be taken for those willing to take the risk.
You can now purchase the new Blu-ray version of IVANS XTC from Arrow Video.