Congrats to Mark Harris for having written what I presume will be a diverting essay about Hal Ashby‘s Being There — his first Criterion Bluray essay. The disc — a new and restored digital 4K transfer, supervised by Caleb Deschanel — will pop on 3.21.17.
I’ve just tweeted my feelings about this exceedingly dry, droll film, and I have to say that while Being There felt just right in ’80, I’m not so sure about now. In high places a man who speaks only in metaphors and parables would eventually be asked to speak bluntly, plainly, like a cab driver or a beat cop. You can play your Zen cards only to a certain extent — sooner or later people of substance and consequence would demand that you put up or shut up. Which is why at the end of the day, the single, solitary joke at the heart of Being There wears thin.
Besides Harris’s essay, the package will include (a) a new documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with members of the production team, (b) excerpts from a 1980 American Film Institute seminar with director Hal Ashby, and (c) author Jerzy Kosinski in a 1979 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.