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Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

The Thing Called Love - Director's Cut

DVD Region

North America,
Spoken Languages: ENGLISH
Subtitles: ENGLISH
Picture Format: 16:9 Widescreen
Sound Format: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Surround

Main Menu From the moment the DVD menu appears on screen, it's clear that we are dealing with a highly polished presentation of the 1993 film, The Thing Called Love here. Director Peter Bogdanovich gives a hugely detailed, revealing and honest commentary throughout the length of the film, one of the best commentaries in fact on any DVD release of River's movies. Demonstrating an extraordinary memory for a project that was completed a dozen years previously, the director can still recall exactly the individual locations that each scene was filmed at and is happy to point out where the film jumps seamlessly between the footage shot in Memphis and material that was actually filmed on soundstages in Hollywood. In another example, it is extraordinary to learn that all of the scenes shot outside Elvis Presley's famous Memphis home, Graceland, were in fact shot in front of an exact replica of the house and grounds.

As well as revealing for the first time his use of discrete and subtle camera movements the director explains just how proud he is of the many lengthy scenes in his movie that were recording in one long unbroken sequence but is quick to give ample credit to his acting cast in being able to achieve them. In particular, he mentions that River loved doing scenes like that. Bogdanovich also gives generous mentions to the unusually large number of songs used in the film and the song writers who wrote them.

Peter Bogdanovich

The director goes on to comment about how River had never played a character like this before, true perhaps, but hardly surprising - every role River portrayed was markedly different from any he'd played previously. Bogdanovich also described River as needing to "play a character five years older with more experience" - nothing new there either. Still, describing River as "way beyond his years" Bogdanovich echoes every director River worked with, especially when he recalls that "River was an actor who really got into his role and stayed in it." Additionally, talking about River's desire to sing in a movie, the director discusses what he refers to as the extraordinary contributions River made to the movie and describes him as a very generous actor.

In a warmly welcome feature of this DVD, several previously unseen new scenes have been carefully inserted into the movie. The first of which features a new scene shortly after Samantha Mathis' character arrives in Memphis. However, by far the best restored scene is footage of River when he sings Lone Star State of Mine. Now the movie doesn't cut away from the scene half-way through, and River's character, James Wright, now sings the song through to completion. Absolutely fantastic.

Also to be found on the DVD is the presence of a whole collection of special features that greatly extends the enjoyment of the film. "The Thing Called Love - A Look Back" not surprisingly is a collection of interview-based memoirs and recollections of the film and it makes for marvellous viewing. Co-stars Dermot Mulroney, Anthony Clark, and particularly interestingly, Samantha Mathis, recorded interviews for this segment of the DVD. Anthony Clark even mentions Aleka's Attic, about seeing them perform in New York, and then goes on to talk about the period River spent performing in Venezuela as a young child. It's wonderful to see the actors again talking about their roles and the time they spent on the film, spoilt only by the fact that the interviews with co-stars Sandra Bullock and K.T. Oslin are not new but rather just a re-use of material recorded back in 1993.

Samantha Mathis

Dermot Mulroney

Anthony Clark

It comes as no surprise that the most poignant extra feature is that titled "Our Friend River" and it follows the same interviews-interspersed-with-film-clips format as the rest of the special features. "River was the greatest actor of my generation at that time," states Samantha matter-of-factly. "He was so brave, and so raw, and so honest in his work. He really was such an inspiration to anyone in their teens and twenties at that time. Not to mention adults, who worked with him, who were so blown away by his talent." Peter Bogdanovich continues that line of thought, recalling that "I'm very happy that River asked to be in the movie, and that we made the movie. It was the last film he completed before his tragic, and in my opinion, accidental death. That was an absolutely horrifying blow, his death. And a terrible loss because he had so much potential and so much future and this movie, I think, shows what kind of a fascinating leading man he would have been, because this is really his first mature role. And that was a terrible tragedy."

The last word of the piece is left to River and is taken from some promotional work he did for the film shortly before he died. "I like love stories, you know? When I was younger I used to be real cynical about all that stuff but in my old age I seem to find a soft spot in myself and I just think that the story has a lot of sweet things about it. I mean, it could have gone in a number of directions, but the one we've chosen, I think, is pretty true."

   Old Man River...

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