- Actors: warren beatty, dustin hoffman
- Directors: elaine may
- Format: PAL
- Language: Italian (Dolby Surround), German (Dolby Surround), English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
- Subtitles: Italian, English, Arabic, French, Hindi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Turkish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Swedish
- Region: Region 2 (Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: General AudienceG
- Average Customer Review: 255 customer reviews
- ASIN: B005Z9DSR8
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#283,195 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #226182 in DVD
Ishtar ( 1987 ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Italy ]
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chuck clarke e lyle rogers, due cantautori cabarettisti americani, per la verita' sfortunati, vengono ingaggiati per una tourne'e in marocco. chuck, durante il viaggio, offre il suo passaporto ad un'araba impaurita all'aeroporto da misteriosi persecutori politici. raggiunta ishtar - un emirato - i cantanti si trovano coinvolti in pericolose avventure. li' c'e' un emiro dalle maniere forti, protetto dagli stati uniti; ci sono partigiani (e shirra, la donna dell'aeroporto e' una di loro) in attesa di due individui per scatenare la rivoluzione (una antica mappa, trovata da un archeologo americano che si occupa di scavi, preannuncia il loro arrivo in loco). non manca la cia, con il proprio rappresentante, che offre a chuck e lyle di collaborare. tra incidenti ed equivoci, chuck e lyle si ritrovano in pieno deserto, lottando con un cammello riottoso e per giunta cieco, senza poter raggiungere la sospirata oasi, e - come se non bastasse - in possesso della famosa mappa cucita da qualcuno sui loro panni, la quale potrebbe scatenare il finimondo nella immensa regione, mutandone l'assetto politico. poco dopo che si e' svolta sulle dune un'asta di armi micidiali tra capi arabi - con chuck nelle vesti di banditore e interprete - arrivano in elicottero agenti della cia i quali, appoggiando l'emiro e volendo impadronirsi della mappa in questione, hanno deciso di eliminare chuck e lyle. ma costoro, ora in possesso delle armi, si salvano riuscendo a tornare ben presto alla loro vocazione di cantare canzoni antiche e nuove: le nuove in un disco finanziato dalla stessa cia, ora costretta a patrocinare notevoli riforme sociali.
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In reality, Ishtar is a nice adventure comedy that is both silly in the Beatles “Help!” vein, an obvious nod to the Hope and Crosby 40’s Road To… pictures, and uses some rather subtle devices that require an attentive mind (for instance the persona/role reversal of the usual Hoffman and Beatty characters, where Beatty is the more bumbling fool of the two and Hoffman is the more self-confident and “suave”, if one can call him that, partner). Charles Grodin is as far from a sharp and intellectual CIA agent as you can imagine, and the acclaimed French actress Isabelle Adjani plays sexuality way down in near imitation of an awkward boy throughout the film. The whole film is rampant with ironic twists, especially if you know the cast well. This was due to Elaine May’s script and her deft directorial hand which was then castigated by the Hollywood Press who made no attempt to disguise their intent to send the picture to movie hell. I found Roger Ebert’s original ’87 review of Ishtar on his website and read it for the first time since reading it in ’87. It seemed somehow vile and malignant that a critic with his impeccable talents would be just slightly forgiving; he has given a lot of “bad” movies a pass for at least some redeeming factors and I thought I would find one here, I didn’t. The deadpan he found in the film, he refused to open his eyes and realize that the intentional two-dimensional self-immolating characters are 80’s precursors to Shallow Hal.
The songs written by Paul Williams for the inept duo of Simon & Garfunkel wannabe’s are nothing short of hilarious, especially if you hold the lyrics up to comparison with songs from the classic rock and folk eras. Laugh out loud hilarious. The singing is intentionally as awful as you can imagine.
The vistas and cinematography for the film are beautiful and the Dolby/DTS sound are incredibly good in the Bluray version of the film. My only complaint with the Bluray is that given the nature of this film and its history, a nice documentary on the movie as an extra would have been appreciated by the film industry fans, perhaps a look back on the debacle with fresh eyes (if anyone has even attempted that). Leave it to say that at roughly $10 for the Bluray, you get the movie and only the movie in the highest quality picture and sound available currently with no frills.
I think history, from the look of many of these reviews giving Ishtar a total average of 4 Stars, is being much kinder to the film than what it suffered in the 80’s and 90’s. A new audience will possibly like this for what it was intended to be, without prejudice, and old cinema geeks who liked it as a quality “bad” picture will certainly get a kick out of it. Then there are the accolades from the industry talents. Quentin Tarantino loves it. Martin Scorsese has called it one of his favorite movies of all time. And even in today’s press, The New Yorker magazine has written Ishtar is a "wrongly maligned masterwork… There's a level of invention, a depth of reflection, and a tangle of emotions in 'Ishtar' which are reached by few films and few filmmakers."
I hope those of you who have avoided seeing this picture simply out of “reputation” might give it a chance. This release is promoted as The Director’s Cut version. It is actually two minutes shorter than the theatrical release, but no one, including me, has any idea what is missing. It has been too long since screening this in a theater, the last time I actually saw it, so if anyone has an eidetic memory and can answer the question, comments would be welcome!
A Litmus test for what, however, I'm not sure exactly. Independence of thought? The self-confidence to admit that they enjoy something that has been institutionalized as the platonic ideal of the Bad Movie? A goofy sense of humor? A light-hearded joie de vivre? You tell me. All I know is that if someone admits to liking this movie, I almost always find them to be pleasant company.
Personally, I have loved this movie, unconditionally and unabashedly, ever since it came out, in spite of the social and media-provided pre-conditioning that encouraged the world to hate it sight-unseen, and I have always been baffled by the knee-jerk hatred expressed by most people, especially when they haven't seen it. There isn't much that can perk up my mood faster than this movie can. Sure, it hasn't held up as well as it could have since its release in 1987, thanks in large part due to the cheesy one-man-synthesizer-band score, but I still love it, and I'll be watching it at least once a year until the day I die.
In part due to this Blu-Ray release. I've had a bootleg copy of "Ishtar" on DVD for some time, as it was the only (non-VHS) format available. (Many thanks to that conscientious gent on the internet who, starting with the Italian DVD release, re-tooled it to have no region restrictions, NTSC output, and, by default, the subtitles turned off.) That copy served me fine for years, but I was still happy to pick up this official Blu-Ray edition, just to support its release, and I couldn't be happier.
The Blu-Ray format is sometimes a pain in the backside, and older (i.e., pre-digital) movies can get butchered during the transfer process, with DNR pancake faces and/or other artifacts caused by artificially increasing the contrast, or audio issues stemming from separating the (in "Ishtar"'s case, mono) original soundtrack into 5.1 (or greater) surround sound. But I'm happy to report that this release looks, sounds, and plays great, with (by my relatively snobbish eye) no glaring issues, including playability (on my BD player, at least). I'm still keeping my bootleg DVD, as I regard DVD as the more flexible and reliable format, but still, any sanctioned release of this movie in a modern home-video format is an event worth celebrating for us few and proud Ishtarians.
The only complaint I can make is that this BD release contains no extras. And I mean that literally: no extras at all, not even a printed insert with a chapter index. I know, in this world, economics prevails, and for a movie with such a limited cult status and a glaringly red balance sheet, the cost of producing anything other than a bare-bones movie-only release likely wouldn't be justified, but I can still fantasize about a time when this movie has achieved a greater appreciation, and a proper deluxe edition can see the light of day. This movie is just screaming for interviews and commentary from the director and lead actors, perhaps a documentary about the controversy that all but eternally vanquished this movie into Hollywood's Third Circle of Hell, and you know there has to be hours of terrific outtakes locked away in a vault somewhere.
So let's hope (and lobby) for that long-odds possibility of a proper treatment from Criterion or equivalent, but in the meanwhile, this no-frills release is very easy to get happy about.