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The Cotton Club Encore Blu-ray Review

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The Encore cut doesn’t save the undercooked “The Cotton Club.”

“Apocalypse Now” isn’t the only film Francis Ford Coppola retooled this year. He also worked on a new remastered, restored, and extended cut of the oft forgotten “The Cotton Club.” The part musical, part gangster film mostly revolves around the paths of two characters in the Jazz soaked 1920’s and 1930’s. There’s Dixie a trumpet player turned actor who is trapped by life as he is forced to do work for a gangster (Dutch) after saving his life. Dixie also has feelings for a woman named Vera who also happens to be Dutch’s mistress. The other main player is a dancer named Sandman who works at the titular Harlem night club. While there, he meets a singer named Lila whom he falls madly in love with. Amidst these two intertwined storylines are plots about gangster business and wars.

By all accounts “The Cotton Club” should have been a renowned motion picture given the level of talent involved. Not only is it helmed by Francis Ford Coppola, but Mario Puzo has a story credit, John Barry does the score, Robert Evans is the producer, and the cast is stacked with stars such as Gregory Hines, Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Fred Gwynne, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Grey, Gwen Verdon, Lonette McKee, Tom Waits, and Mario Van Peebles. Of course, the extravagant production values (the sets, costumes, and cars are first rate) should not be forgotten as well. Despite all of this, however, “The Cotton Club” never quite gels even with this new edition.

“The Cotton Club” is nothing if not an ambitious period piece about crime, love, and race, but it’s too busy. Since there are so many storylines, characters, and subplots everything feels underdeveloped (it doesn’t help that the dialogue tends to land with a thud either). For instance, Dixie has a brother named Vince who gets caught up in working with Dutch. This could have been a really deep storyline of family turmoil, but Vince and Dixie barely interact and this brotherly story is barely explored at all. In fact, the plodding story tends to be a bit too tedious and obvious at times as it fails to dive into subjects it should be delving into.

Cast wise, James Remar shines as the violent hothead Dutch as does Bob Hoskins as the Cotton Club owner Owney. The real star though is Gregory Hines. Watching him tap dance is always a joy. As an added bonus, he does several show-stopping dance sequences with the character of Clay who happens to be played by Gergory’s own brother Maurice Hines. Inspired casting to say the least.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? This is a quality restoration although some shots certainly look better than others.

Audio Track:Dolby TrueHD 5.1. How does it sound? A nice clean track that comes alive during musical numbers.

Extras:
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* An intro by Francis Ford Coppola
* “The Cotton Club Encore Q&A”- A 19 minute New York Film Festival Q&A with Maurice Hines, James Remar and Francis Ford Coppola.

December 16, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , ,

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