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Monday, April 15, 2024

Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly (1991 – 2003) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film (Career Opportunities)
The Film (Waking the Dead)
The Film (House of Sand and Fog)
The Video (Career Opportunities)
The Video (Waking the Dead)
The Video (House of Sand and Fog)
The Audio (Career Opportunities)
The Audio (Waking the Dead)
The Audio (House of Sand and Fog)
The Supplements


An overview of actor Jennifer Connelly's career stretching from the early 1990s to the early 2000s features comedy, dramas, and thrillers.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly collection from Imprint spans a twelve year period in the actor’s career and three films, that go from the end of her child star phase in the John Hughes written and produced Career Opportunities (1991) to her emergence as a bankable dramatic actor in more mature fare like Waking the Dead(2000) and House of Sand and Fog (2003).

The first film, 1991’s Career Opportunities, is a middling rom-com directed by

Bryan Gordon. The John Hughes screenplay mines the depths of his earlier films such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, feeling cliché, tired. 21-year-old conman and layabout Jim Dodge (Frank Whaley), recently fired from yet another job, gets hired as a night clean-up boy at a local department store. Overnight, when the night manager locks him, he has a good time in the store on his own, eating candy, roller skating around in his shorts, and so on. Meanwhile, rich girl Josie McClellan (Jennifer Connelly) who is acting out to get her real estate mogul father to pay attention to her was also locked in the store after falling asleep in the dressing room while shoplifting. The two opposites meet, begin to form a rapport, and decide to run off together with the cash from the store when to robbers break in and disrupt their plans.

Next up in the collection is 2000’s Waking the Dead, a supernatural thriller starring Billy Crudup as Fielding Pierce, a man in the early-1980s who has decided to run for congress. The problem is Fielding, who has compromised on all of his youthful ideals from the 1970s, begins to be haunted literally and figuratively by the memory of his former girlfriend Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), who he saw in a news report recently died in a car bombing. Her apparitions and his guilt begin to cause him to spiral into madness. The film is stylized and atmospheric but a bit overwrought.

The strongest entry in the collection is House of Sand and Fog (2003) wherein Jennifer Connelly plays working class, former drug addict Kathy who loses her house due to a clerical error concerning property taxes. Iranian immigrant Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), formerly a high ranking official in Iran, has been working menial jobs in the United States trying to scrape by and support his wife and son. He sees an opportunity to move ahead by buying Kathy’s home cheaply at auction and reselling it at a high profit. This brings him directly into conflict with Kathy’s new boyfriend, the corrupt and violent police officer (Ron Eldard) and Kathy’s lawyer (Frances Fisher). House of Sand and Fog is an interesting, thrilling look at both the immigrant struggle and desperation of the working poor in the United States up against an impenetrable bureaucracy.

  • Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup in Waking the Dead (2000)
  • Jennifer Connelly in Career Opportunities (1991)
  • Jennifer Connelly in House of Sand and Fog (2003)
  • Jennifer Connelly in House of Sand and Fog (2003)
  • Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly (Imprint Films)

The Video

Each film in this Jennifer Connelly collection from Imprint is taken from a 2K scan and presented in AVC 1080p on Blu-ray Disc. The transfers are definitely not brand-new restorations, which is immediately apparent given the appearance of nicks and scratches that can be seen, the loose grain density, and softer detail. Career Opportunities has some problems with red push in the flesh tones and Waking the Dead has haloing, which can become distracting. House of Sand and Fog can look inherently murky in some scenes but is marginally better than the other two films.

The Audio

Waking the Dead and House of Sand and Fog both come with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 stereo mixes while Career Opportunities only gets the latter, and it is also the weakest sounding of the three. That is not because it is only stereo, but because there is some audible clipping on the dialogue in parts. Otherwise, Career Opportunities has the punchiest sounding music and good stereo imaging. The other two films have very atmospheric surround mixes, with nothing too aggressive, no solid effects in the surrounds, but effective use of the channels overall.

The Supplements

In addition to the on-disc bonus features listed below, this Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly collection comes with a special collector’s booklet containing essays on Connelly and the films, all housed in a limited edition hardbox.

Career Opportunities:

  • Audio Commentary by director Bryan Gordon (2023) (NEW)
  • Interior. Night. – Director of photography Donald McAlpine on filming Career Opportunities (2023) (1080p; 00:10:43) (NEW)
  • Crafting Criminals– Interview with actors Dermot and Kieran Mulroney (2023) (1080p; 00:15:52) (NEW)
  • Theatrical Trailer (720p; 00:02:06)

Waking the Dead:

  • Audio Commentary by director Keith Gordon
  • Audio Commentary by film critic Bilge Ebiri (2023) (NEW)
  • The Sum Total of Change – Interview with director Keith Gordon (2023) (1080p; 00:26:04) (NEW)
  • Desperately Clinging to Utopian Ideals – Interview with actor Billy Crudup (2023) (1080p; 00:24:35) (NEW) 
  • Making-Of – Archival featurette (1080p; 00:04:27)
  • Deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Keith Gordon) (1080p; 00:49:27)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:02:28)

House of Sand and Fog:

  • Audio Commentary by Ben Kingsley, Vadim Perelman, and Andre Dubus III
  • When The Fog Clears – Director Vadim Perelman Twenty Years Later (2023) (NEW) (1080p; 00:14:21)
  • Building The House – Editor Lisa Zeno Churgin on House Of Sand And Fog (2023) (1080P; 00:20:15) (NEW)
  • Finding Nadi – A conversation with actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (2023) (1080P; 00:20:54) (NEW)
  • Deleted scenes (with optional audio commentary by Vadin Perelman) (720p; 00:11:13)
  • Behind-the-scenes – Archival featurette (720p; 00:15:54)
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo Audition Footage (720p; 00:06:07)
  • Slide Show with comments by cast and crew (720p; 00:05:40)

The Final Assessment

This Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly collection is an interesting and unexpected film collection from Imprint Films, but one that should not be overlooked. Connelly has had an interesting career, from starring in music videos and Dario Argento’s supernatural giallo Phenomena, to lightweight fare like Career Opportunities to helping anchor powerful dramas like House of Sand and Fog and A Beautiful Mind, she has proven her bona fides as an actor to be reckoned with. Imprint’s provides a good entry point and overview of her skill and breadth.

Jennifer Connelly: Film Focus is out on Blu-ray August 30, 2023, from Imprint Films.

  • Rating Certificate: Australia: MA 15+ (Medium level violence, Adult themes.)
  • Studios & Distributors: Hughes Entertainment | Universal Pictures | Polygram Filmed Entertainment | Egg Pictures | Gramercy Pictures | Dreamworks Pictures | Cobalt Media Group | Bisgrove Entertainment | Miramax | Imprint Films
  • Directors: Bryan Gordon (Career Opportunities) | Keith Gordon (Waking the Dead) | Vadim Perelman (House of Sand and Fog)
  • Run Time: 83 MIns. (Career Opportunities) | 105 Mins. (Waking the Dead) | 126 Mins. (House of Sand and Fog)
  • Street Date: 30 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Career Opportunities) | 1.85:1 (Waking the Dead) | 1.78:1 (House of Sand and Fog)
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (Career Opportunities, Waking the Dead, House of Sand and Fog) | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Waking the Dead, House of Sand and Fog)
  • Subtitles: English HOH

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An overview of actor Jennifer Connelly's career stretching from the early 1990s to the early 2000s features comedy, dramas, and thrillers. Film Focus: Jennifer Connelly (1991 – 2003) (Blu-ray Review)