A Room With A View James Ivory

This 1986 period piece launched the international reputation of producing and directing team Ismail Merchant and James Ivory as the crown princes of costume drama, and introduced delicate Helena Bonham-Carter into that world, where she would dwell for nigh on a decade in films like Maurice, Howard's End and The Wings of the Dove, before she broke out in films like Fight Club and Planet of the Apes. A Room With A View could very well be the pinnacle of repressed, distinctly English efforts. In adapting the mannered world of E.M. Forster, Merchant-Ivory attend to every socially-determined detail, from appropriate dinner conversation to the way one tips a hat to a passing lady. Underneath the bustle of proper English culture untapped passion awakens within Lucy Honeychurch (Bonham-Carter) when she meets a hedonistic father and son duo while on holiday in Italy (played by Denholm Elliott and Julian Sands). This stirs up her plans to marry stuffy Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) back home in England and disrupts her obligations to accept her role in a world in transformation. A Room With A View, afforded a beautiful digital transfer here, remains a visual spectacle and a joy to watch, with a buggy-load of great English acting talent. (Judi Dench, a radical romance novelist, Simon Callow's Reverend Beebe, and Maggie Smith as a fussy, put-upon aunt are all delightful.) And it remains an earnestly romantic pleasure to bask in the seemingly simpler pleasures of novelist Forster's love for pre-war (that's World War I) English life. This two-disc offering is distinctly British in its anachronisms. In addition to a commentary by Merchant, Ivory, Callow and cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts, it offers an archive of British television bits like Day-Lewis and Callow on the morning chat shows, a report on how American audiences are reacting, and an ancient black and white BBC report on the life of E.M. Forster. It's hardly enough to warrant a deluxe two-disc issue, but it does serve to recall a time in Oscar-baiting filmmaking when bustles and lace dominated, at least in the technical categories. Plus: photo gallery, Merchant Ivory tribute. (Warner)