1086 Deep Cover

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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DarkImbecile
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1086 Deep Cover

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:06 pm

Deep Cover

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Film noir hits the mean streets of 1990s Los Angeles in this stylish and subversive underworld odyssey from veteran actor-director Bill Duke. Laurence Fishburne stars as Russell Stevens/John Hull, a police officer who goes undercover as the partner of a dangerously ambitious cocaine trafficker (Jeff Goldblum) in order to infiltrate and bring down a powerful Latin American drug ring operating in LA. But the further Stevens descends into this ruthless world of money, violence, and power, the more disillusioned he becomes—and the harder to make out the line between right and wrong, crime and justice. Steeped in shadowy, neon-soaked atmosphere and featuring Dr. Dre’s debut solo single, this unsung gem of the nineties’ Black cinema explosion delivers a riveting character study and sleek action thrills alongside a furious moral indictment of America and the devastating failures of the war on drugs.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
  • New 4K digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with director Bill Duke
  • New conversation between film scholars Racquel J. Gates and Michael B. Gillespie about Deep Cover’s place within both the Black film boom of the early 1990s and the noir genre
  • New conversation between scholar Claudrena N. Harold and professor, DJ, and podcaster Oliver Wang about the film’s title track and its importance to the history of hip-hop
  • Panel discussion from 2018 featuring Duke and Fishburne and moderated by film critic Elvis Mitchell
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    PLUS: An essay by Gillespie

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#2 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:11 pm

Incredible. Always thought a label like Arrow would get to this instead. A total surprise and areal gem of early-90s cinema.

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cdnchris
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#3 Post by cdnchris » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:22 pm

Yes! This one's a very pleasant surprise. I haven't seen it since the 90's but would watch it whenever it popped up on movie stations (never bought it on DVD, though). I remember Ebert really pushing it back in the day, though Siskel didn't care much for it.

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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#4 Post by David_kuznicki » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:23 pm

This was pretty much the last movie I'd assumed we'd ever get. What a profoundly welcome gem.

beamish14
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#5 Post by beamish14 » Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:08 pm

Stunning choice for Criterion. Career-best performances from both Fishburne and Goldblum, and an amazing indictment of Reagan/Bush, Sr. politics.

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Telstar
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#6 Post by Telstar » Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:16 pm

Interesting that Michael Tolkin seems completely ignored in the special features.

Nw_jahrles
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#7 Post by Nw_jahrles » Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:28 pm

Glad to see the enthusiastic response to this. This has been a favourite of mine since it came out when I was a kid and I was always under the impression that it was mostly forgotten and would end up on a double-feature by Mill Creek or something.

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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#8 Post by beamish14 » Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:30 pm

Nw_jahrles wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:28 pm
Glad to see the enthusiastic response to this. This has been a favourite of mine since it came out when I was a kid and I was always under the impression that it was mostly forgotten and would end up on a double-feature by Mill Creek or something.

I was thinking that as well, considering that he was all over The Player. I believe that the finished product is not what either of its 2 credited writers truly wanted, and he may have declined to talk about it.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#9 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:01 pm

This is such a fun surprise! Fishburne in the 90s is one of my favorite actor runs. Gates is a terrific scholarly source for this one. I highly recommend her writing.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#10 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:11 pm

Telstar wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:16 pm
Interesting that Michael Tolkin seems completely ignored in the special features.
beamish14 wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:30 pm
I was thinking that as well, considering that he was all over The Player. I believe that the finished product is not what either of its 2 credited writers truly wanted, and he may have declined to talk about it.
Understandable omission. Here's an L.A. Times feature published on the film when it came out, and it says, "Screenwriter Michael Tolkin was brought in to do a first draft and then [producer-writer Henry] Bean himself took over revising the script."

[made some corrections, I'm guessing they did an optical scan of the published article that produced the mistakes]

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#11 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:28 am

So this is the nuanced gritty urban Reagan-stained crime movie that everyone but me seems to see in Abel Ferrara's work from this era (with the exception of King of New York). Duke brings a perspective that counters Ferrara's brand of 'grey', which is often drowning in self-deprecation and filtered through self-destructive surrender (in his defense, this self-indulgence is a reflection of his inebriated soul as an active drug addict hitting spiritual bottom). Duke's 'grey' worldview is more mature and sober to the irreparable conflicts between systems, which makes sense coming from someone who has grown up hypervigilant from marginalization rather than clouded by pain in self-pity; holding a position of tragic compromise accepted with shrewd stoicism. This is not a Ferrarian sea of deviance, but a film about will power, the external risk factors that break it down, and the inner supports that hold it together. The film also plays like a rearranged version of BlackKklansman with the searing torment of cynicism reaching its boiling point before we get the self-reflexively artificial Only In The Movies catharsis for a black cop, to the point where this almost certainly a direct inspiration for Spike Lee's last two efforts. What an excellent, exhilarating film. Anybody have recommendations for what else to seek out from Duke's directing work?

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What A Disgrace
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#12 Post by What A Disgrace » Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:37 am

Well you just sold me on the movie, my wallet hates you.

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Buttery Jeb
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#13 Post by Buttery Jeb » Fri Apr 23, 2021 9:48 am

Given his importance in the film, I'm surprised Charles Martin Smith isn't listed among the cast on Criterion's website.

Nw_jahrles
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#14 Post by Nw_jahrles » Fri Apr 23, 2021 12:26 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:28 am
Anybody have recommendations for what else to seek out from Duke's directing work?
I haven’t seen it as an adult, but I really used to enjoy Hoodlum when I was young. Tim Roth gives a fun over-the-top performance and Laurence Fishbourne is his usual reliable self.

beamish14
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#15 Post by beamish14 » Fri Apr 23, 2021 12:34 pm

Nw_jahrles wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 12:26 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:28 am
Anybody have recommendations for what else to seek out from Duke's directing work?
I haven’t seen it as an adult, but I really used to enjoy Hoodlum when I was young. Tim Roth gives a fun over-the-top performance and Laurence Fishbourne is his usual reliable self.

A Rage in Harlem, which he made immediately prior to Deep Cover, is extremely funny. A rare comedic turn from Forest Whitaker, who is very manic throughout it.

I still need to watch The Killing Floor, but it's always been considered to be among the very best American Playhouse productions.

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dwk
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#16 Post by dwk » Tue Jun 22, 2021 9:57 am


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yoloswegmaster
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#17 Post by yoloswegmaster » Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:42 am

Interesting that this is listed as Region A/B.

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PfR73
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#18 Post by PfR73 » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:03 pm

That's just how DVDBeaver denotes Criterion releases that have both a US & UK release. Typically, they're still locked to their respective Region.

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yoloswegmaster
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#19 Post by yoloswegmaster » Sat Jul 17, 2021 10:42 am


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hearthesilence
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Re: 1086 Deep Cover

#20 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Oct 21, 2021 12:43 am

Saw this on HBO Max, and now I wish I bought it as part of the flash sale. I was struck by how effectively it suggested a much greater world (or a greater world of wrongdoing) beyond what's seen on-screen, so much that it sent me down a rabbit hole reading up on Manuel Noriega. (Wikipedia entries are a good lead due to the linked sources peppering the entire article.) It may be a history lesson, but the anger over terrible consequences wrought by a moral hypocrisy driven by ideology feels like an interminable reality.

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