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Review: 'Ivans xtc' Updates a Russian Classic

by Ken Tasho
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 29, 2020
Review: 'Ivans xtc' Updates a Russian Classic

"Hooray for Hollywood" goes the old-time saying, referring to the excitement of actors, the movies they star in, and the sordid lives they lead. A new Arrow Video Blu-ray shows the underbelly of Hollywood as it follows the story of a dying hotshot agent. The oddly titled "Ivans xtc." gets its inspiration from the novel "The Death of Ivan Illyich" by Leo Tolstoy. The filmmakers of "Ivans xtc." bring the story to the present time in the 2000s.

Directed by Bernard Rose ("Candyman") and made on a shoestring budget of $500,000, "Ivans xtc." was the kind of Hollywood film that Hollywood itself was afraid to release. It follows the weeks leading up to the death of Ivan Beckman, a Hollywood agent whose life is spiraling out of control.

The film begins with the death of Beckman (played by Danny Huston). Those who attend his funeral seem unfazed; at the announcement of his passing during a stressful conference room meeting, Ivan's co-workers are nonplussed.

"He died of cancer," says one such colleague in a cold manner.

But others closer to him know the truth. Beckman was a cocaine addict who surrounded himself with call girls and constant debauchery.

Actor Danny Huston (son of the late John Huston) bares his all, literally, in a performance that should've been more widely recognized back in 2001. "Ivans xtc." was filmed on a digital video camera, and is presented in real-time fashion, and looks like a home movie at times. This approach only adds to the sadness permeated throughout the film.

Arrow Video tacks on some nice extras on their Blu-ray also:

"Charlotte's Story" — a documentary on the making of the film featuring actress/producer/writer Lisa Enos

"Egyptian Theater Q&A" — a 2018 Q&A session with the actors and director

"Ivans xtc."

Ken Tasho is a Corporate Drone by day and Edge Contributor by night. He has a love for all things ’80’s and resides in the Wayland Square area of Providence, RI...but would much rather be sharing an apartment in NYC with ’80’s rock goddesses Pat Benatar and Deborah Harry.

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