Oct 12, 2022
By Austin Trunick
Adolfo Rollo (Steve Buscemi) is nearing the end of his rope. With no job, no money to speak of, and his gangster landlord about ready to break his kneecaps, Adolfo’s last hope is to sell his most cherished possession: a 500-page screenplay titled Unconditional Surrender, which he has long been dreaming of filming himself. He receives one response to his desperate sales ad, from an eccentric individual named Joe (Seymour Cassel), who never gives out his last name. It’s obvious to Adolfo that Joe’s a criminal of some sort, but a magnanimous and magnetic one—and most importantly, he wants to finance Adolfo’s movie. But, he needs Adolfo to help him with a few jobs first…
Through an effort that began way back in 2017, the last remaining archival print of Alexandre Rockwell’s NYC indie classic In the Soup (1992) was saved from eventual extinction through the efforts of Factory 25 and almost eight hundred Kickstarter backers. To achieve the movie’s distinctive black-and-white look, the film was shot in color and then printed to a rarely-used Kodak monochrome stock; the process was so unusual (and thus expensive) that the crew could only afford to have one theatrically projectable print made. In the thirty years that have passed since, Kodak has stopped producing that particular film type—and the original In the Soup print was accidentally shredded in a repertory theater’s projector. Fans chipped in from around the world to basically rebuild the destroyed sections of the movie, and to restore the whole thing in the process. The results are new 35mm prints; a 4K digital scan that will be immune to wear, tear, and natural aging; and this Blu-ray release from Factory 25’s home video division.
In the Soup looks great here—its unorthodox printing method produced a black-and-white image that feels out-of-time, and makes its dirty New York locales look like places from a film by Rollo’s filmmaking idol, Andrei Tarkovsky. We have to imagine the film looks better on this release than it did for those who caught it on 35mm during the latter-day screenings of that doomed print. It’s a movie that needed to be saved, full of oddball characters and capturing a moment in NYC when the Lower East Side was a crumbling Bohemia for independent artists. It’s also delightful to watch Cassavetes staple Seymour Cassel steal scenes as a charming loose cannon; it’s easy to understand why Buscemi’s increasingly flustered Adolfo can’t help but admire him. The full cast includes appearances by fellow indie mavericks Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, Hollywood stars Jennifer Beals, Sam Rockwell, and Stanley Tucci, and memorable cameos by Elizabeth Bracco and Michael J. Anderson.
Factory 25’s Blu-ray includes a bonus Rockwell film, Little Feet (2014), a Q&A with the director, and a booklet with reflections on the film by the director, Buscemi, and Beals, and a republished conversation between Rockwell and Tarantino that ran in Filmmaker after In the Soup and Reservoir Dogs played at Sundance.