Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
With Terence Stamp, Lesley Ann Warren, Luis Guzman, Barry Newman and Peter Fonda.
Little classic by Steven Soderbergh Linden arrives in 4K courtesy of Lionsgate, which has included the film on Blu-ray and has also added a code for a digital copy. Extras are rare and have been carried over from previous editions. Maybe one day the budget will be available to give this movie the home video treatment it deserves.
Like many people my age, my introduction to Terence Stamp was his role as General Zod in the first two Superman movies. Later, I discovered his rich career, which took off in the early 1980s and continues today. He is one of those actors who is just perfect in any role he plays, which often involves tough guys who say little by mouth but say a lot with their eyes and body movements.
I admit I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to catch all the characters he played, but when I got the chance to rewatch 1999s Linden, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Stamp in a meaty lead role, I jumped at the chance. In the film, he plays Wilson, a Briton who traveled to Los Angeles to find out what really happened to his daughter Jenny in the last days of her life.
However, Wilson isn’t a mild-mannered man pushed overboard: he’s a guy with his own seedy history, which makes him well suited to take on other seedy characters. However, I was aware that the way he raised his daughter might have contributed to the kinds of risks he took when she moved to LA, and I imagine that probably crossed his mind. too. In his own way, he was not only seeking revenge for what he believed to be murder, but he was performing a sort of penance for the weak influence he had over Jenny.
Rounding out the cast are Peter Fonda as high-powered record producer Terry Valentine, who dated Wilson’s daughter; Lesley Ann Warren as Elaine, a friend of Jenny’s who tries to provide information; Luis Guzman as Eduardo Roel, another friend of Jenny’s; and Barry Newman as Valentine’s chief security officer, Jim Avery.
The film is just 89 minutes long and is a masterclass in how sometimes less is more when it comes to making a movie. Soderbergh sticks strictly to the backbone of the story, moving Wilson through his journey at a measured pace and focusing solely on his goal. There are no subplots, nor extended flashbacks (just short flashback moments); Wilson is not a complicated man, so he doesn’t need a complicated story.
Soderbergh also uses an interesting editing technique in which the dialogue for certain scenes appears at different points in the story, and sometimes the next line or two of dialogue plays characters on a shot who don’t speak until the scene does. catches up. It’s a little shocking at times, but I guess the idea was to get across the fractured thought patterns of a man who deals with both grief and anger in a major way. That works.
Lionsgate reissued Linden in a nice Steelbook with a plastic cover. The front image is an evocative black-and-white shot of Stamp as Wilson, two tendrils of cigarette smoke billowing from his mouth. The film is available on 4K and Blu-ray discs in the box, and there’s a paper insert with a code for a digital copy.
This film has long been light on bonus features on home video, and this edition is no exception. A pair of commentary tracks, along with a solo score, are the only extras found on both sets.
The first commentary features Soderberg and writer Lem Dobbs. It opens with a fractured approach which I suspect is intended to intentionally mimic the editing style of Linden before launching into a discussion between the two. An interesting aspect of the discussion is Dobbs’ willingness to challenge some of Soderbergh’s directorial decisions. The disagreements are uncontroversial, however, and the two eventually come to terms with disagreeing on several occasions.
The other track has Soderbergh and Dobbs joined by Fonda, Stamp, Newman and Warren, and it’s a more conventional commentary. Luckily, it doesn’t deviate much, as group comments sometimes do.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★ ★ ★