Being There [Blu-Ray] Hal Ashby

Peter Sellers and Hal Ashby's final masterpiece is given a well-deserved transfer to Blu-Ray. One of the greatest satires ever made, Being There has been called a dark comedy, and it is hilarious and does focus upon some rather macabre subject matter. But it is delivered with a joyous levity rarely achieved on screen. There is a seemingly contradictory and impossible feeling of omniscient innocence conveyed by the character and story of Chance. He's a simple gardener who must face the world outside his home for the first time after his benefactor passes away. The details of his relationship with "the old man" are not made clear, nor is there any background on Chance beyond what we see of him gardening, watching TV and asking for lunch from Louise, the house maid. After being ejected from the house by lawyers, Chance takes to the streets with his suit, hat, suitcase and smile. Chance's interactions with a world that has never been real to him beyond a TV screen are hilarious, touching and searing with insight. Among the film's heavily loaded subtext is the excellent use of a funk version of the 2001 theme to soundtrack Chance's initial trek through the city. One could spend countless hours examining the dripping layers of brilliant open metaphors that resonate so strongly spiritually, politically, socially and personally. Chance's contentment with the very act of being, as expressed through the voyeurism of television, is quite an interesting way of looking at the core honesty of consciousness, to say the least. Features include a few additional scenes, including an alternate ending with far less magical impact, a gag reel, most of which is already rolling during the credits — some say this unfairly lost him the Oscar, which he did deserve for this role — and an interview with Illeana Douglas, granddaughter of Melvyn Douglas (who did win a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Bert). The modest amount of special material available is sadly because most of the principles involved didn't live to see the '90s, but thankfully they left the world with one of the most wonderful and compelling achievements in cinematic history. (Warner)