Paris in the 1920s was the place to be for artists, writers and people who wanted to be absorb the scene. This was the world that gave us Picasso, Dali, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. Those involved are educated, entertained or threatened by being in a creative hub. This was a land where people wanted to push forward and not merely bask in nostalgia. They were there to create themselves as their dreams. It is from this world that Alan Rudolph (Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) sets up for a tale of love, art, secrets and betrayals in The Moderns.
Nick Hart (Southern Comfort‘ Keith Carradine) is an American living in Paris making a meager living doing cartoons to accompany articles by his pal Oiseau (The Princess Bride‘s Wallace Shawn) in the local newspaper. But he’s capable of more than a safe art job as he floats among the rich and nearly famous. The art community becomes excited when Bertram Stone (The Last Emperor‘s John Lone) arrives in town. He’s made a fortune in condoms and wants to buy up modern art masterpieces. Hart has a slight issue with the guy since Stone’s wife (The Last Seduction‘s Linda Fiorentino) has a history with him. Hart keeps wanting his real art to get shown at a gallery run by Libby Valentin (Dead Ringers‘ Geneviève Bujold). But he ends up getting tangled in an painting fraud scheme with Nathalie de Ville (Chaplin‘s Geraldine Chaplin) that explodes the art world in Paris.
The Moderns gets into the vibe of the time. The movie uses these real personalities in ways to push the story of Nick and the Stones. Carradine’s performance brings out the reason why so many flocked to Paris during this team. He’s so enthusiastic to be in the middle of this all. This is one of his best films. Shawn is hilarious as the writer who keeps wanting to get out to Hollywood to be a part of the next hot spot. Lone makes sure that his Stone isn’t merely a villain. His character supposedly studied under Houdini and this informs his ability to always look like he’s going to amaze everyone as he escapes a tricky situation. The Moderns has aged as well as the art depicted in the forgery. The Moderns: Collector’s Edition gives a well deserved revival to an ’80s art house masterpiece.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the details of the artistic circles. The film does play tricks when it shifts from black and white stock footage of Paris to the color moments with the actors. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lets you feel at the center of Paris with the atmosphere in the round. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track of the original mix. The movie is subtitled.
Art and Artifice in The Moderns (96:35) is a feature length documentary that covers all the elements of the film with Alan Rudolph, Keith Carradine and producer Carolyn Pfeiffer. Rudolph had started the script in the early ’70s. Sometimes a project takes a while. He gives details of the historical folks that were adapted into his characters. Pfeiffer speaks of the importance of Shep Gordon (Supermensch) in making the film happen. Rudolph talked about the future project with Carradine when they worked on Robert Altman’s Nashville.
Theatrical Trailer (2:04) sets up the idea that Paris in 1926 was the place to be.
Shout! Factory presents The Moderns: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Alan Rudolph. Screenplay by: Alan Rudolph & Jon Bradshaw. Starring: Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Linda Fiorentino, Wallace Shawn. Running Time: 126 minutes. Rated: R. Released: September 19, 2017.
Tags: Keith Carradine, Shout Select, The Moderns