Mr. Jealousy Is Finally Anamorphic!

If you've been following this site since the beginning, you've probably caught on to the fact that I'm a pretty big Noah Baumbach fan.  But I've been anticipating this one especially because Mr. Jealousy is one of my last remaining non-anamorphic DVDs that, until now, has been impossible to replace in any region.  Now I really just need Clockwatchers, Happiness, Turn Of the Screw, House of Yes, Hilary and Jackie and The Wife.  Maybe The Imposters.  But this is one I was beginning to think would never come off the list, so happy day!
Mr. Jealousy, 1997, is early Baumbach, the biggest symptom of which is that it just feels a little more conventional.  Even compared to his first film, Kicking & Screaming, this seems more directed by romcom conventions.  Eric Stoltz and Annabella Sciorra are a cute and charismatic young couple whose relationship is challenged by a series of increasingly outrageous misunderstandings.  And it works as that, with genuinely clever plot contrivances and relatable humor.  Its wit is brought to life thanks particularly to a brilliant supporting cast, including Whit Stillman all-star Chris Eigeman, Peter Bogdanovich, Kicking & Screaming alumni Carlos Jacott and John Lehr, Marianne Jean-Baptiste who was nominated for an Oscar for Secrets & Lies during filming and Bridget Fonda.
But unlike its peers, this one is also working on another, more substantive layer with something real and thoughtful to say about jealousy in its many forms.  It's creatively shot, at least sporadically, using old fashioned irises, and makes excellent use of an eclectic soundtrack including old Georges Delerue themes long before critics would fawn all over him for doing the same thing in Frances Ha.  It's at once a far better than average romantic comedy and more than one, sure to satisfy any Baumbach fan that's only jumped on his more recent, award winning fare.
Fox Lorber released Mr. Jealousy on DVD all the way back in 2000, so it's not too surprising that it was widescreen but non-anamorphic.  The disappointing part is that it was just never reissued.  No special edition, not even a quick and dirty upgrade to shake it free of obsolescence.  I did spend some time, years back, pursuing the rumor that the Italian DVD from Prism was anamorphic, but no.  It's 4:3, too.  And the fact that it only had their Italian dub for audio would've made it an impossible alternative anyway.  Happily, however, none of that matters any longer.  A Mr. Jealousy listing quietly appeared as a preorder link on Amazon last year.  Its release date came and went with no actual product, but eventually it was announced that our film was indeed coming from MVD Visual; and finally, this July, it's here.
2000 Fox Lorber DVD top; 2021 MVD BD bottom.
Besides being non-anamorphic, and therefore left floating in a sea of black on a modern television display, Fox's DVD was matted to 1.85:1 (or, more accurately, 1.84:1), while MVD opens it up to 1.78:1.  But MVD does more than just lift those little mattes.  MVD's comparatively new scan brings in more considerably information along all four sides.  I say "comparatively," since it looks like an older master, with a bit of tinkering done to it and quite light on grain.  But as opposed to the extra low resolution SD we've been left with up 'till now, it's a massive jump forward.  It has a cooler color timing than the DVD, though I'm not sure if it's necessarily better.  It's different and it's perfectly fine, though.  The real joy is just to see this in HD, which does help this feel less like a scrappy early effort and more like a Real Movie, which especially makes the lavish conclusion hit home all the more.

Both discs offer a the original stereo mix in a fine, clear track.  But the BD provides it in LPCM and also includes optional English subtitles, which the DVD was lacking.
All the DVD did have for us was a fullscreen trailer.  That same trailer is back on the blu, but the disc's biggest surprise is that it also includes a great, 40-minute retrospective documentary.  It includes new interviews with producer Joel Castelberg, along with Bogdanovich and actor Brian Kerwin.  But it also edits in additional vintage interviews with Baumbach himself, as well as EPK interviews and B-roll with other cast members.  This was clearly put together by a fan; it offers a lot of insight and intriguing trivia (wait 'till you hear what other actors were nearly cast in some of these roles).  It even gets into Highball; and in fact, the Highball trailer is also included, along with a couple bonus ones.
Could this be a sign than Highball is soon to follow?  I sure do hope so.  But right now I'm far too satiated with this Mr. Jealousy blu to start banging the drum for more.  For the moment.

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