Henry Jaglomís directorial debut, A Safe Place, premieres on Blu-ray through Criterionís America Lost and Found box set, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a 1080p/24hz transfer. It shares the same dual-layer disc with the film Drive, He Said. Like the other films in the set the transfers were actually done by Sony.
Drive, He Saidís transfer is the weakest of all of the film presentations in the set, showing visible compression artifacts and an overall more worn image. I blamed the artifacts somewhat on the fact Criterion stuck two films on the same disc, but oddly A Safe Place doesnít share all of the same problems. In fact, it looks pretty good.
The image is very sharp, and the filmís grain looks stable mostly with a few instances where it looks more like noise. Detail is fairly high, and colours can be very strong and vibrant, but I thought skin tones could lean on the red side at times. Blacks are fairly deep but are nothing spectacular.
The print has a few blemishes but nothing that truly calls attention to itself. In the end itís certainly not the best looking transfer but it was still a pleasant surprise. 7/10
All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.
Criterionís America Lost and Found box set is basically a complete history lesson on BBS Productions and the supplements found on each disc in this set are primarily about the production company as a whole, though each disc still contains supplements that focus on their respective films.
Sharing the same disc as Drive, He Said, A Safe Place comes ďloadedĒ with special features in comparison to that filmís one supplement, despite possibly being the less appealing of the two fairly obscure films on the disc (some may be more interested in Drive, He Said simply because itís Nicholsonís directorial debut.)
Jaglom first provides an audio commentary for the film. Though I will admit Iím not terribly fond of the film, I was surprised at how engaging I found Jaglomís track. He talks a little about the play itís based on and some of the differences (Wellesí character doesnít appear in the play, in fact, the character was made up on the spot to entice Welles to join the cast, knowing the actor was fond of magic.) He also covers the production, BBS, the filmís music, working with the various actors, and shares inspirations, though repeats himself a couple of times. What shocked me most was he actually explains the film, the characters, sequences, and general themes within, laying it out pretty simply in some cases. I must admit I appreciated this, and I do have a better understanding of what Jaglom was trying to do. I also liked listening to his experiences from making this film, lessons learned, and what he took from the harsh reception. But do I appreciate the film a little more now? Not particularly, but Jaglomís track is at least still a fascinating one.
Next is basically a condensed version of the commentary, a 7-minute interview with Henry Jaglom, who again talks about the play, the thrill of directing his first feature, and then the themes in the film, as well as responses. Okay interview, but its inclusion is bizarre since, well, everything covered in here is covered in the commentary.
Notes on the New York Film Festival is a 29-minute interview with directors Peter Bogdanovich and Henry Jaglom, who talk with Molly Haskell about their respective films, The Last Picture Show and A Safe Place. Itís a little stuffy but worth viewing as the two talk about their styles (Jaglom apparently shoots a lot of footage, saying he could make another film, and it sounds as though he shot footage of Bogdanovich that never made itóand this isnít surprising since Jaglom mentions in the commentary he spent a year editing the film.) Though Jaglom does talk about his filmís themes, along with the filmís editing style and structure, it actually feels more like Bogdanovichís interview since Haskell seems more intrigued by his film, and the fact more clips are shown from The Last Picture Show than from A Safe Place. In fact thereís a bit of a discussion about the nature of ďclipsĒ after Jaglom has to explain the first clip from A Safe Place that would be completely disorienting to the viewer when not played in the context of the entire film. Itís not a great interview as Haskell doesnít seem all that absorbed in it, and on a technical level itís rough, but thereís some interesting comments from Bogdanovich and Jaglom.
Outtakes and Screen Tests presents 25-minutes worth of material. First we get about 5-minutes of outtakes with Orson Welles, followed by 4 different screen tests for other actresses trying out for the lead which of course went to Tuesday Weld.
The disc then closes with a theatrical trailer which canít be accused of false advertising.
The box set overall offers some wonderful supplements, providing a comprehensive history of BBS Productions and the films they released (the set even coming with a 111-page booklet) and it may be one of Criterionís more comprehensive collections. For A Safe Place I did like the commentary track, but could give or take everything else. 6/10