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Music Video Distributors presents
The Foreigner (2001)

"When we dream that we dream, we are beginning to wake up."
- Max Menace (Eric Mitchell)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 24, 2002

Stars: Eric Mitchell, Anya Philips, Patti Astor
Other Stars: Debbie Harry, Kitty Sondern
Director: Amos Poe

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:34m:12s
Release Date: November 06, 2001
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-CD+ C

DVD Review

I will admit, right off the bat, I've never heard of Amos Poe. Well, more accurately, aside from a few references to his work here and there, I've never seen an Amos Poe film until now. To be honest, I'm not really all that impressed. The Foreigner, Poe's 1977 cult-classic, feels less like a movie and more like the shattered remnants of many other films assembled together in another form. It wears its gritty, low-budget nature on its sleeve as if to be brilliantly assumed into art-film heaven, but collapses under technical ineptitude. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let's examine the film.

The Foreigner's concept is to be a surreal, "arty" portrayal of a secret agent, Max Menace (Eric Mitchell), on a journey through New York on a mission during which he is pursued by mysterious people of all sorts. The plot is a bit confusing, the pace is bewildering, and attempts to fit into the groove that filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard have established seem painfully forced. It's a minimalist film, with very little in the way of traditional structure. It creates a disconcerting mood of isolation from its own subject matter, which I assume was intentional, and it works well in that respect. On the other hand, it doesn't make much sense. It's a cauldron of different artistic directions, boiling over in every direction, and it creates a very schizophrenic feeling. To be honest, none of these things are particularly that bad. The issue I have is that The Foreigner demands your attention for 90 minutes. That's an awfully long time to expect someone to pay attention to such a jumbled group of images and thoughts.

Director Amos Poe seems to be embracing the core of the underground movement that emerged in the 1970s, butthe various concepts clash. The film appears immersed in the "new wave" movement, yet the only real sign of that seems to be cameos from a few musical personalities, like Debbie Harry of Blondie and Lux Interior of The Cramps. One element I did find mildly entertaining, though, was the way the film cleverly avoids any clear time setting. It's not set in any era, but rather a sort of partially futuristic/partially present-day vision. In fact, now that I think about it, the project reminds me very much of Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville. I think perhaps The Foreigner tries very hard to be similar to that spiritual successor, but goes too far.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Having been filmed on 16mm back in 1977, The Foreigner is obviously worse for wear. It's taken quite a beating, and the source material is fairly weak, which is no insult to the mastering job on the film, which deals with the problems rather well. Compression problems seem to be minimal, and a relatively high bit-rate seems to ease this along. The only real issue is the damage, which is rather thick. In a way though, it adds to the overall style of the movie.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a mixed issue. The 'D+' basically encompasses the majority of the film, which is almost inaudible due to low-budget sound work. This is not the fault of the disc, which actually makes the unusual and moody musical score by Ivan Kral come quite alive. The core problem is much of the dialogue and sound effects. Even in places where the dialogue is dubbed (which is quite a bit), it's still tough to make out properly.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Amos Poe
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: The Foreigner features a full-length audio commentary by director Amos Poe. He discusses many facets of the movie in a very active and animated way, going into a lot of detail. It's a good commentary, I would imagine, for both big fans of Poe, as well as newcomers. Additionally, there is a gallery of still photos accompanied by some music (some punk rock stuff) that didn't seem to be credited.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The Foreigner means well, with it's strange, underground attitude and radical departure from the norm, but it just becomes tedious. This is one of those cult classics I just don't "get." If I were to go out right now with a video camera, and virtually no budget, I could probably make a very similar film.

Is this a brilliantly isolating poem about the human condition in cold and soulless cities? Not really.


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