Director Abel Ferrara continues his trend of violent and moody character driven films by unleashing 'R Xmas. ‘Ý?R Xmas works on the thinnest of thin plotlines. The film quickly introduces a married couple living in 1992 New York. It‘Ý?s Christmas time and the couple are working to put together a great holiday for their daughter. This is arranged thanks to their full time job as heroin dealers. The demand is high this season but the supply is low. The couple is working overtime to meet the demand and make Christmas all it can be. While the wife, played by the Sopranos‘Ý? Drea De Matteo, is looking for a hard to find item for the daughter, her husband gets kidnapped. Ice-T soon approaches her and tells her to bring him lots of money in return for her husband. She gets what she can and other demands arise causing her to shuttle around back and forth. While spending most of the day trying to fulfill the kidnapper‘Ý?s desires, she has time to rethink her life. That‘Ý?s the whole film. It only runs 83 minutes too. Strong character development is what keeps the gears in motion, just like every other Ferrara film.
‘Ý?R Xmas is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image quality ranges from good to very good. The transfer is clean with only minimal dirt and grain. Blacks are strong considering how dark this film is. Blues are notably absent evidently due to the wishes of the director, so blacks mostly take their place. Only a handful of images ever appear washed out. For a lower budget film, ‘Ý?R Xmas looks quite respectable.
Dolby Digital 5.1EX and 2.0 soundtracks are included. The 5.1EX track is a real winner as the action as well as the city environments come alive often with ambient sounds panning side to side and from front to back. Bullets whiz by in style and the voice work is nicely mixed in around the rears to clearly defined separate soundstages. Unfortunately more dialogue occurs than actual action, so don‘Ý?t go in expecting a heavy shoot-em-up sort of track. Also the LFE is rarely present and the rap soundtrack is used more often than not to pad weaker parts in the mix. This is a dialogue driven track with just the right amount of ambient audio to correspond properly with a given scene. Artisan has crafted a fine audio mix for this low budget film.
Extras are light, but for a film like ‘Ý?R Xmas, anything relative is a nice addition. The bread and butter so to speak would have to be an audio commentary track from director Abel Ferrara and another sole that is unidentified (at least on the case). A short written piece on the film and a few other Artisan DVD release trailers finish out the disc.
Abel Ferrara fans will undoubtedly have already scooped this one. For those who are not overly familiar with the director, he is the man responsible for such films as Bad Lieutenant, King of New York, and The Funeral. Each of these films including ‘Ý?R Xmas all have a similar vive. If you are fan of those, give ‘Ý?R Xmas a rental, you might find a lot to like. The DVD certainly won‘Ý?t disappoint.