Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil [1997]

Readers of John Berendt's bestselling novel were bound to be at least somewhat disappointed by this big-screen adaptation, but despite mixed reaction from critics and audiences, there's still plenty to admire about director Clint Eastwood's take on the material. Readers will surely miss the rich atmosphere and societal detail that Berendt brought to his "Savannah story," and the movie can only scratch the surface of Georgian history, tradition, and wealthy decadence underlying Berendt's fact-based murder mystery. Still, Eastwood maintains an assured focus on the wonderful eccentrics of Savannah, most notably a gay Savannah antiques dealer (superbly played by Kevin Spacey), who may or may not have killed his friend and alleged lover (Jude Law). John Cusack plays the Town & Country journalist who arrives in Savannah to find much more than he bargained for--including the city's legendary drag queen Lady Chablis (playing "herself")--and John Lee Hancock's smoothly adapted screenplay succeeds in bringing Berendt's characters vividly to life with plenty of flavorful dialogue. In similar fashion to Warner's acclaimed DVD of L.A. Confidential, this classy DVD includes a behind-the-scenes documentary titled The Real People in the Garden and an interactive map tour of Savannah and its most celebrated (or notorious) citizens. The original theatrical trailer is also included. --Jeff Shannon

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