Citizen Cohn
HBO // R // $19.98 // July 10, 2001
Review by Blake Kunisch | posted September 6, 2001
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Movie: Starring James Woods as his usual strong-willed self, Citizen Cohn benefits greatly from the performances by all involved. Focusing on Roy Cohn, the right-hand man for Senator Joeseph McCarthy during the Red Scare, Citizen Cohn presents an intensely real portrayal of a man that was universally hated throughout America. Ruthless and power hungry, Roy Cohn took pleasure in masterminding the downfall of others to further his own career.

Presented as flashbacks from his deathbed, the story progresses in a linear fashion with the occasional contemplation from his bed, with an occasional appearance of a person from his past who haunts him and questions his methods of attaining fame and importance. James Woods does a spectacular job in his portrayal of Roy Cohn and carries most of the film on his back. The only problem is, that while telling the story of Roy Cohn, there's not much about his life to be exalted, so the film turns into a constant degradation of Cohn's character, morals, and choices in life. It makes for an entertaining, albeit dark film that ultimately seems to go nowhere and answer none of the questions the film itself brings up about his life and his choices in life.

Picture: HBO is really learning how the aspect ratio needs to be done in order to present a nice DVD. Presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, the film is presented as it was meant to be, rather than chopped up for the mass TV audience. The only detraction from the film is the occasional fleck of dirt that pops up on the screen for a brief instant. While the aspect ratio is superb with the anamorphic transfer, the original copy needs a bit of cleaning before another transfer is done.

Audio: Presented in Dolby Surround 2.0, the film utilizes both sides of the audio field to clearly differentiate dialogue between characters. The surround is also utilized for ambient sounds at times which adds a little, but not much to the film itself.

Extras: There's really nothing extra-special about this disc. The only real "special" feature advertised is the Cast & Crew Bios which are becoming standard on most DVDs these days and really don't provide much useful information anyways. I'd assume that because it's become standard, studios think they need to add this information to stay competetive, but I would venture to guess that as much as 3/4 of the viewing public don't even care whether or not these bios are included. I for one would rather see a behind-the-scenes documentary, or some interviews with the cast, which I'm sure exist somewhere. Rather than focusing on the bland and boring, give us something new and entertaining.

Conclusion: While James Woods turns in a great performance and single-handedly carries the film, it's a hard movie to like for the simple fact that the main character is a bad-guy. He gained fame by persecuting innocent to further his career. The video transfer is nice, but not spectacular as is the audio. The extras are non-existant and overall, taking the other features into account, I would not recommend this DVD.



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