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Falling Down (SE)
BLU-RAY disk
Jun 11, 2009 By: Jason Adams
Falling Down (SE) order
Director:
Joel Schumacher

Actors:
Michael Douglas
Robert Duvall
Barbara Hershey

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An unemployed man snaps one day while sitting in traffic and goes on a violent rampage across Los Angeles, rebelling against societys ills.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Who hasnt at some point felt like they had enough? If youve ever been treated rudely, had someone rip you off, or act intolerantly, theres always that base instinct we feel in our gut of achieving justice. FALLING DOWN is a stripped down fantasy, a psychological horror movie where Michael Douglas gets to act out our sickest desires to correct the problems of society. Sure, the guy is already pretty much certifiable when the movie starts, but its not hard to sympathize with him for many of his reactions to everything from gang violence to racism to crappy fast food. Its the reason why revenge movies like TAKEN still do so well; people like to see other worse people get whats coming to them.

FALLING DOWN caused quite a stir when it was released and in the 15+ years since it seems like society has come full circle back to the films era. With our economy in the tubes and people and cultures divided more than ever, I cant think of a better time for this movie to be revisited. FALLING DOWN presents an honest portrayal of a downward spiral that seems all too possible in this day and age. And even though it connects emotionally to the audience, it doesnt glorify his actions. The violence and psychotic behavior in the film is ugly and uncomfortable. D-FENS is a sympathetic character for what hes been through, but we arent supposed to sympathize with his violent rampage. Its something Michael Douglas and director Joel Schumacher do well in the film: get audiences to quietly root for Douglas, but also fear him.

Id venture to Joel Schumachers best movie. Granted, he hasnt done a whole lot worth noting since, but just look at the opening scene of FALLING DOWN. Its a masterfully shot scene with echoes of Fellini. You dont expect that from the director of BATMAN AND ROBIN. However, the movie rightfully belongs to Michael Douglas, who gets lost in the role of D-FENS. His deconstruction of the character is subversive and powerful and I still think the man missed out on many worthy awards.

Its not a perfect film by any means. I would love to see the film without Robert Duvalls cop protagonist, whos a walking clichthe old police officer about to retire who takes on one last case and puts everything together way too quickly. His subplot is nowhere near as interesting or necessary to the plot. Still, its a bold film and a timely one, thats impressive merely for the fact that it got made in the Hollywood system.
THE EXTRAS
As I said, FALLING DOWN is still a timely film today, so Im glad it got a decent enough treatment on Blu Ray. The booklet is fantastic, although Id like a few more special features on the discs themselves.

Commentary by Michael Douglas, Joel Schumacher, writer Ebbe Roe Smith, and editor Paul Hirsch: Theres some good info here (especially from Schumacher, who speaks more intelligently about the film than I expected), but its one of those commentaries where everyone is recorded separately, which makes it a less entertaining listen. Also, Douglas section isnt even a commentary, but sound bites from an interview he did in 1993.

Deconstructing D-FENS: A Conversation with Michael Douglas: While the commentary is old, this interview with the man is fairly new. Looking back, Douglas is still obviously proud and speaks highly of the film and character.

A Theatrical Trailer

The Blu Ray also comes with a 34-page Book with a background of the project, critical reviews and trivia info. A nice addition to the package.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
FALLING DOWN features a stellar performance from Michael Douglas and a thrilling story thats equal parts entertainment and social commentary, and still relevant now. Well even let Joel Schumacher out of director jail to throw some praise his way too.

Extra Tidbit: Ironically, the LA riots took place during the filming of this movie.
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