Monday, April 11, 2011

Blu-ray Review | "Marwencol"

There has been quite a bit of excitement about the Cinema Guild's inaugural blu-ray release of Jeff Malmberg's remarkable documentary, Marwencol. Cinema Guild has been one of the strongest up and coming specialty distributors of the last few years, releasing such films as Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum, Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnes, and Manoel de Oliveira's The Strange Case of Angelica. So for the company to be dipping its toes into the Blu-ray business for the first time is something to be celebrated. And boy have they done it right.

Marwencol isn't necessarily a film that benefits from an HD presentation, but the transfer is nonetheless pristine, despite being presented in 1080i rather than 1080p, with pop-up menus and all the trappings that we have come to expect from the Blu-ray format.

They don't skimp on the extras either, which in addition to an introductory essay by critic Elvis Mitchell, includes a limited edition print by the film's subject, Mark Hogancamp, as well as the usual deleted scenes.

Hogie marries Anna in front of the SS soldiers who captured him.
Photo by Mark E. Hogancamp. Courtesy of The Cinema Guild.

Unlike most perfunctory deleted scenes, however, these take us deeper into the world of Marwencol, the fictional town created by Hogancamp as an escape from his own troubled world. The deleted scenes are less essential, but the lost stories of Marwencol are each fascinating in their own right.

Also of interest is a short video of Hogancamp watching the film for the first time, and his immediate reaction. Hogancamp remains an engaging and enigmatic figure, and the Blu-ray actually expands on this intriguing and talented man.

From my original review:
In the end, Hogancamp is still something of an enigma. But that's kind of the point. How much can one person truly know another, especially someone as reserved as Hogancamp, whose personality is poured day after day into his art? Marwencol is a fascinating portrait of an artist who didn't even know he was one that challenges its audiences' notions of art and reality by confronting them with a man who refuses to be pigeonholed. Thankfully, Malmberg doesn't try, and the result is a truly compelling and insightful documentary.
Marwencol is one of the most original and entertaining documentaries of the last few years, and while its release on Blu-ray may seem an unusual choice for the Cinema Guild's first foray into the format, it brings with it promise of great things to come, including a Blu-ray release of The Strange Case of Angelica on August 2nd.

Don't miss this alluring and unusual gem.

GRADE - ★★★ (out of four)

MARWENCOL | Directed by Jeff Malmberg | Featuring Mark Hogancamp | Not rated | On DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, April 12.

1 comment:

Sam Juliano said...

Fair enough! You're stellar case has made a sale, as I will be purchasing this blu-ray sight unseen. I wanted to view this film a number of times, but never made good on my intentions, as it just didn't fit in. But I hear ya loud and clear!