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HTF REVIEW: "Citizen Ruth" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Citizen Ruth

    Studio: Miramax
    Year: 1996
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 105 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English

    A Pro-Laugh comedy

    The one thing I love most about Miramax films is that
    their film product is always unique -- with stories
    and attitudes that are often way off of Hollywood's
    mainstream beaten path. The studio isn't afraid to
    offend anyone with their films, and often as a
    result, produce movies that are brilliantly honest,
    often wickedly funny, and most always appealing.

    Unconventional and certainly controversial,
    Citizen Ruth is a film that fits the Miramax
    mold to a tee. It's an insane satire that reveals
    the lowest common denominator of the extremist
    behaviors on both sides of the most divisive issue
    of our time -- abortion. A comedy about abortion
    you say? Well, not quite.


    Meet Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern), a down-and-out
    destitute "huffer" who'll easily lie and beg for
    money in order to support her habit which consists
    of stuffing her face into a paper bag, and getting
    high from inhaling the hazardous vapor she puts
    inside. When the police pick her up passed out
    against a wall, she is taken to a local hospital
    where a medical exam reveals she is pregnant. Days
    later, a judge charges her with criminal endangerment
    of her fetus.


    Enter The Stoneys: Gail (Mary Kay Place) and Norm
    (Kurtwood Smith), and their family of "Baby Saver"
    Christian fundamentalists who offer to pay bail
    and "rescue" Ruth from the clutches of the law.
    What Ruth doesn't know is that she is about to
    become an unsuspecting pawn in the battle between
    the Baby Savers and a diverse band of Pro-choice


    Things go from bad to insanely worse as Ruth is
    rescued again, this time by lesbian pro-choice
    activists Diane(Swoosie Kurtz) and Rachel (Kelly
    Preston) who prepare Ruth for her abortion.


    Soon both sides declare a "National Alert" which
    calls for extreme measures from both sides. This
    means bringing in Jessica Weiss (Tippi Hedren)
    the symbolic leader of the pro-choice group who
    arrives to do battle with Blaine Gibbons (Burt
    Reynolds), who is the icon of the "babysavers."

    I wouldn't say Citizen Ruth is a comedy
    about abortion itself, as the film doesn't really
    come down on either side of the abortion issue. It
    spoofs just about everyone here -- even the
    pro-Lifers themselves. Writer/director Alexander
    Payne gives us a film full of smart satire and
    characters that are incredibly stereotypical and
    an electrifying Oscar caliber performance from its
    star, Laura Dern.

    How is the transfer?

    Miramax has once again succeeded in putting
    together a very pleasing transfer. Images are
    clear and sharp with a substantial amount of
    detail. Colors are clean and accurate, though
    along with black levels, are not overly prominent
    here. I did notice a small amount of background
    grain, but nothing that is distracting.


    The film's Dolby digital surround track is pretty
    decent. The audio is well balanced with good
    directionality and clear, centered dialog. The
    rears do a pretty darn good job of supplying ambient
    sounds of the town, it's traffic and rowdy crowd
    masses. Even Rolf Kent's off-kilter musical score
    manages to wrap itself nicely into the rear channels.

    Special Features


    It's nice to see that Miramax has included a
    full-length commentary that features
    director and screenwriter Alexander Payne,
    screenwriter Jim Taylor, production designer
    Jane Ann Stewart and actress Laura Dern.
    Recorded last October, it begins with Jane
    Ann Stewart talking about how they took a
    little old lady's apartment that was neat and
    tidy and turned it into a paint-smeared untidy
    nightmare -- one that would belong to a drug
    dealer. Most of the film was shot in Omaha,
    a town Payne eventually moved back to for the
    filming of About Schmidt. Everyone is
    extremely proud of this project -- citing it as
    the best they have ever worked on -- and this
    commentary mostly becomes a reminiscent experience
    for everyone involved.

    Other than that, all that is left here is the
    inclusion of the film's original theatrical
    , which is always a welcomed feature.

    Final Thoughts


    I stopped short of putting Citizen Ruth in
    my list of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED DVD titles. It's a
    decision I may regret, because I feel this is such a
    brave, provocative, amusing, and thoughtful satire.
    How many other films can you name that can be all
    that in under 2 hours?

    Release Date: NOW

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

    May 14, 1999
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    Excellent news - I saw this in the theater way back when and loved it. Good to know there's a commentary, and it's time to place my order.
  3. Alex_zhang

    Alex_zhang Auditioning

    Feb 16, 2003
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    Pictures dont work
  4. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

    Aug 14, 2001
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. I will definately rent this at least. Curious to see what Payne / Tayler's debut is like.
  5. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

    Dec 31, 2001
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    I was doing cartwheels when I found out this was on DVD, finally! It's a dead-on funny movie, and Laura Dern's best performance EVER. She was very brave to take the role, not because of the subject matter, but because her character is an irritating, nasty, devious, dimwit of a dimbulb, and Dern takes it and runs with it. She's brilliant!

    I'll be buying this, immediately.

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