September 28, 2023

CARLITO'S WAY (4K): Some Things Change, Some Things Don't

CARLITO’S WAY Limited Edition (4K UHD)
1993 / 144 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

Carlito’s Way is arguably Brian De Palma’s last great film. By that, I mean it’s the last one where his unique aesthetic touch (and no small amount of Hitchcockian influence) is a major part of what makes it so memorable. Okay, okay...a guy named Al Pacino might have helped a little, too.

That was 30 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Aside from a director-for-hire gig with the first Mission: Impossible, De Palma hasn’t done jack squat worth seeing. As for Pacino…he still appears in some great stuff from time to time, but frequently seems to coast on the over-the-top screen persona he’s cultivated over the years (and should probably patent). 

One thing that hasn’t changed: This is a sweeping, damn-near poetic depiction of a life from which there’s no true escape, no matter how much its main character tries. Despite being a legendary drug kingpin, we genuinely like Carlito, something you can’t say about Tony Montana in Scarface, to which this film is often (unfairly) compared. He’s no saint, but acknowledges his own shortcomings while trying like hell to put his old life behind him. Conversely, we grow to despise those in his circle, such as the so-called friends who - consciously or not - seem to be hastening his failure to go straight, especially seedy defense lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn, in one of his best performances).

"I'm feelin' a little carsick."
The other thing that hasn’t changed is the story’s weakest narrative aspect…the relationship between Carlito and Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). While I understand this rekindled romance helps to reflect Carlito as a changed man, Gail’s just not very interesting, at least compared to the more colorful characters in his life. The film ultimately works best when focused on Carlito’s world spiraling out of his control, which remains a compellingly uncomfortable viewing experience.

Universal first released Carlito’s Way on 4K just a few years ago and I have no idea if this new release from Arrow Video features the same transfer. However, Arrow has loaded theirs with enough new bonus material (including physical goodies) to make an upgrade worth considering for fans of the film. 


(NOTE: Free Kittens Movie Guide was provided with “promo discs” for review purposes. The actual retail version of this boxed set includes substantial physical extras, which were not made available).   

4K & BLU-RAY COPIES - The film is included on both discs. With the exception of the commentaries, all the bonus features are on the Blu-ray.

NEW INTERVIEWS - Individual interviews with Judge Edwin Torres, who wrote the original novels (and sure loves to toot his own horn), editors Bill Pankow & Kristina Boden.

ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW - With director Brian De Palma.

DE PALMA’S WAY - An appreciation by critic David Edelstein, who clearly loves this film. His insights might have one appreciating it a little more, too.

THE MAKING OF CARLITO’S WAY - 35-minute archival making-of documentary.

ALL THE STITCHES IN THE WORLD: THE LOCATIONS OF CARLITO’S WAY - A look at various locations, then and now. In a lot of cases, not much has changed.

2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By writer/critic Matt Zoller Seitz; 2) By De Palma biographer Douglas Keesey.






No comments: