Foxcatcher (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 6, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently. This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received. “Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 134 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Some Drug Use and a Scene of Violence)
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by E. Max Frue, Dan Futterman
Produced by Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, Bennet Miller
Co-Producer: Scott Robertson
Associate Producer: Hank Bedford, Kristin Gore, Mark Schultz
Executive Producer: Mark Bakshi, Chelsea Barnard, Michael Coleman, John P. Giura, Tom Heller, Ron Schmidt
Music by Rob Simonsen
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Edited by Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy, Conor O’Neill
Casting by Jeanne McCarthy
Production Design by Jess Gonchor
Art Direction by Brad Ricker
Set Decoration by Kathy Lucas
Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Steve Carell as John du Pont
Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz
Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz
Sienna Miller as Nancy Schultz
Vanessa Redgrave as Jean du Pont
Anthony Michael Hall as Jack
Guy Boyd as Henry Beck
Brett Rice as Fred Cole
Jackson Frazer as Alexander Schultz
Samare Lee as Danielle Schultz
Francis J. Murphy III as Wayne Kendall
Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire (Steve Carell) and two champion wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo). Directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (2005, Best Director, “Capote”) it is a rich and moving story of brotherly love, misguided loyalty, and the corruption and emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great power and wealth.
Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup
It was the true story that shocked the nation.
John du Pont, heir to the Du Pont family fortune, founder of the wrestling facility at Foxcatcher Farm, founder of the Delaware Museum of Natural History and contributed to Villanova University and other institutions would also become known as a convicted murderer.
Back in 1996, John du Pont would do the unthinkable by shooting Olympic champion freestyle wrestler, Dave Schultz. Sentenced to prison for 13 to 30 years, du Pont died in 2010 and now the story of what led to that fateful day would be featured in the 2014 film “Foxcatcher” directed by Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”, “Capote”, “The Cruise”) and co-written by E. Max Frye (“Where the Money Is”, “Something Wild”) and Dan Futterman (“The birdcage”, “Judging Amy”, “A Mighty Heart”).
The film would star Steve Carell (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “The Office”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”), Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Mark Ruffalo (“The Avengers”, “Shutter Island”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Sienna Miller (“Stardust”, “G.I. Joe”, “Casanova”) and Vanessa Redgrave (“Howards End”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Blow-Up”).
“Foxcatcher” would receive critical acclaim worldwide and would receive five Academy Award nominations for “Best Director”, “Best Actor”, “Best Supporting Actor”, Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Makeup and Hairstyling”.
And now “Foxcatcher” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
The film revolves around Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (portrayed by Channing Tatum) speaking to a group of elementary school kids in place of his older brother, Dave (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo).
The film begins with both Olympic gold-medal winning wrestlers and brothers going at it in a match. Dave ends up beating his brother but for Mark, it gets to him that he can’t leave his brother’s shadow.
But one day, he is contacted by the wealthy John E. du Pont (portrayed by Steve Carell), the heir to the E.I. du Pont family fortune. John offers Mark a chance to train as his private wrestling training facility, Foxcatcher and invites him to become part of Team Foxcatcher, to train for the World Championships while being paid for it.
For Mark, this is a win-win deal and he accepts the offer. But du Pont also wants Mark to enlist his brother Dave, but Dave is not really interested because he wants to be with his wife Nancy (portrayed by Sienna Miller) and two children.
But Mark moves to Pennsylvania and becomes part of Team Foxcatcher and wins a gold medal at the World Wrestling Championships. And from this point, the two develop a close friendship.
While Mark comes to respect John for his wealth, du Pont begins to introduce Mark to cocaine and the two become friends. But du Pont reveals to Mark that he had one true friend but when he turned 16, his mother Jean (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave), paid a boy to act as his friend. And his mother sees wrestling as a “low sport” but for John du Pont, he enjoys wrestling and takes part in it.
But as Mark and his buddies watch mixed martial arts on television and take a morning off from training, this angers du Pont who verbally and physically abuses Mark. And to Mark’s surprise, John tells him that he will enlist Dave by any means necessary.
Eventually Dave decides to move his family to Pennsylvania to join Foxcatcher. But Dave realizes that something has happened to Mark and he is training alone. Mark starts to distance himself from John du Pont and even his brother.
But Dave becomes worried after he sees his brother getting worse by the minute. What has happened to Mark and will both brothers success at Team Foxcatcher?
“Foxcatcher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). While the film looks quite soft, it does aid to the somber mood of the film. The closeups are quite detailed, especially showing the spots on du Pont’s face. There is a good amount of grain throughout the film.
For the most part, the picture quality of “Foxcatcher” is very good but it’s not a vibrant looking film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Foxcatcher” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue and music but where the film dos show its lossless soundtrack are during the wrestling competitions with crowds screaming and ambiance heard throughout the surround channels. But it’s also a film that utilizes sound and lack of sound with efficacy.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Foxcatcher” comes with the following special features:
- The Story of Foxcatcher – (16:21) Director Bennett Miller, the cast and crew discuss the making of “Foxcatcher”.
- Deleted Scenes – (5:09) Featuring two deleted scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:20) The original theatrical trailer for “Foxcatcher”.
“Foxcatcher” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.
The story of John du Pont and the murder of David Schultz was one of the biggest news stories in America back in 1996.
How could a man who literally had it all, murder an innocent man? David Schultz was one of America’s greatest wrestlers, greatest coaches and no doubt would be destined to coach the American Olympic team.
But even to this day, no one knows why John du Pont did what he did. But in retrospect, there was no doubt that du Pont was mentally ill and he was getting worse and despite the wrestlers seeing his erratic and odd behavior, including Mark and David Schultz, there are a lot of questions of “what if?” but there is no doubt that the tragedy of David Schultz and the story of “Foxcatcher” was rather moody but a wonderfully performed film by Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.
Carrel literally transformed himself to be John du Pont and there is no doubt that he pulled it off with efficacy and is worthy of all award nominations that he received. The character of du Pont was no doubt a creepy character and while I’m not sure how close the real du Pont and Carell’s character was during that last year, I’m surprised many of the wrestler stayed.
To be fair, I know many wrestlers stayed because they were being paid a lot of money but I do know that in reality, when du Pont pointed a gun at Foxcatcher wrestler Dan Chaid, it was a red flag. But unfortunately it was a time when people didn’t know how to react with one with a mental illness.
But I do have to give director Bennett Miller a high five for creating this film.
From receiving a packet of newspaper clippings from a stranger who suggested to him of making the film, Bennett was interested in making the film but first had to get the blessings of the Schultz family before creating the film.
Miller went as far as working with David Schultz’ wife Nancy and Mark Schultz for the smallest details that would be incorporated into the film, from how Mark held a coffee cup to even supplying Mark Ruffalo, David’s actual glasses. Nancy also worked with actress Sienna Miller in terms of giving her details of what happened on the moment of the murder.
And despite the pain of the tragic death of her husband, in interviews, Nancy Schultz had said the film proved to be therapeutic for her.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Foxcatcher” is not a vibrant film, in fact it looks quite moody and depressing due to its softness… but the colors were no doubt intentional. The lossless soundtrack was much better with its ambiance, especially during competitions. As for special features, you get two deleted scenes and a 16-minute featurette, but would have been great if an audio commentary was included.
With that being said, “Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently. This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received.
“Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!
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