Review: Kansas City
Blu-ray: Kansas City (1996)
In early 30’s Kansas City, Johnny O’Hara (Dermot Mulroney) rubs burnt cork on his face, and aided by a taxi driver robs an out of town gambler of his money.
Local black gambling boss, Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte) is not happy and holds Johnny hostage while he decides how to kill him. Johnny’s wife Blondie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) decides that kidnapping local politician’s wife Carolyn Stilton (Miranda Richardson) will force her husband to intervene and get Johnny back to her unscathed.
The story is simple, it is literally Jennifer Jason Leigh talking like a female James Cagney in White Heat, all “Noo Yawk” and clipped snarls through fake crooked yellow teeth. Miranda Richardson swans around being posh and doped up on Laudanum, Dermot Mulroney has about 5 lines and Harry Belafonte spouts one endless dialogue out to whoever is in the room, unfortunately Belafonte just doesn’t make a believable killer.
Most of the action is centred around the Hey Hey Club, where a never ending concert of (rather fabulous) Jazz musicians play (torture for Dave) as a ‘divide’ between scenes.
Directed by the great Robert Altman, Kansas City one of his lesser known films (I’d never seen it before) and to be brutally honest, not one of his best. While JJL’s performance is good, it’s also grating, and her yellow teeth are very distracting.
The ending was expected and not the shock I think the director planned. All in all it’s a nice looking film, low on substance and around the two-thirds mark you wonder if you can be arsed watching till the end despite some side stories that never really go anywhere (a young pregnant girl, a boy with a sax) as nothing seems to happen.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
- Original 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by director Robert Altman
- Newly filmed appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew
- Gare, Trains et Déraillement, a 2007 visual essay by French critic Luc Lagier, plus short introduction to the film narrated by Lagier
- Robert Altman Goes to the Heart of America and Kansas City: The Music, two 1996 promotional featurettes including interviews with cast and crew
- Electronic press kit interviews with Altman, Leigh, Richardson, Belafonte and musician Joshua Redman, plus behind-the-scenes footage
- Four theatrical trailers
- TV spots
- Image gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Dr Nicolas Pillai, original press kit notes and an excerpt from Altman on Altman.
Released 2nd March 2020.
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity.
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