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Clint Eastwood made his name as an actor who usually portrayed tough heroes. However, over the years, Eastwood continued his growth as an artist by directing his own films. Eastwood’s growth finally culminated with a Best Director Academy Award for his film UNFORGIVEN.

MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL ($25) is amongst the handful of films that Clint Eastwood has directed yet does not appear in as an actor. For MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, Eastwood’s direction is right on the money; he keeps up the tension, humor and pacing, while allowing his actor to shine. Based upon the book by John Berendt, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL is a real life tale of a murder and subsequent trial in Savannah Georgia. To make the story cinematic, a number of the elements from the book were changed, but none effected the ultimate outcome of the story. Kevin Spacey stars as Jim Williams, a popular member of Savannah society who gained his wealth as an antique’s dealer. After one of his legendary Christmas parties, Jim kills a man in his employ- claiming self-defense.

MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL also stars John Cusack as John Kelso, a writer covering the Christmas party for a magazine. The magazine article goes by the wayside, once John sees an opportunity to turn the mystery surrounding the killing into a book. In true Southern fashion, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL is leisurely paced, taking its time arriving at its final destination. The trip is a rich and rewarding one thanks to the film’s carefully drawn characters that are brought to life by a terrific cast. Jack Thompson, Irma P. Hall, Jude Law, Alison Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis, Dorothy Loudon, Kim Hunter and Bob Gunton are amongst the film’s primary players. A special mention must to go to The Lady Chablis- the only major character in the book to portray themselves in the film. Chablis is an entertainer who knows how to work an audience, and in the film is such an overwhelming presence that Chablis steals the movie out from under a number of seasoned film actors.

Warner Home Video offers MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL wide screen only on a single sided, dual layered DVD. The film is presented in a very fine looking Letterboxed transfer that features the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Eastwood favors the 1.85:1 aspect ratio for his more intimate films and the Letterboxed transfer comes quite close to those exact proportions. The DVD has excellent color reproduction, with the film’s vivid hues coming across flawlessly. Image quality is everything one could expect from the DVD format; it is crisp and well defined. Digital compression artifacts were never overt on the DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack had a very good mix for a character driven film. There is a subtle use of the discrete channels to convey atmosphere throughout the film. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround compatible track and a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus feature access to a theatrical trailer, production notes cast and crew biographies plus an interactive tour of Savannah that contains interviews with the real people depicted in the film.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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