TRAGIC WARHOL Factory superstar Edie Sedgwick may be consistently stoned in this cinematic time capsule from 1973, but she has no doubt she belongs in front of the camera—and you believe her, despite, or actually because of, her singular self-absorption. (Ciao!'s costume designer, future fashion diva Betsey Johnson, explains during one of the disc's interview extras, "Falling down, standing up, or whatever—she was one in a zillion.") Mulling over her former New York celebrity status from the bottom of an empty swimming pool in California, Sedgwick is playing it very close to the bone here as a strung-out, fizzling ex-Somebody named Susan. Sedgwick died at age 28, just three months after filming, and her wizened voice and big brown troubled eyes are far more resonant than you'd expect from someone so celebrated for vacuousness.
John Palmer and David Weisman's film is required viewing for anyone wanting to tap into the messy, intoxicating energy of Sedgwick's era, and the disc's special features heighten the buzz: There's the requisite "lost footage" that includes Edie and crew at a festive Memorial Day in '67; engaging feature commentary from Palmer, Weisman, and actor Wesley Hayes (the Texan who plays befuddled drifter Butch); plus devoted video testimonials from Weisman, George Plimpton (editor of Sedgwick's famous oral biography), and Hayes, who remembers encountering the SoCal milieu's dazed freaks and excitedly thinking, "I bet they're hooked up with saucer people."
Ciao!, however fictionalized, may well be the document of the '60s underground—it's as chic, compelling, frustrating, addictive, and tedious as Edie herself.
SOME OF THOSE same qualities may be found on the two-disc An Evening with Kevin Smith (Dec. 17), which is kind of like a stage show with the Dogma director. The same date greets the entire Back to the Future trilogy, with new commentary tracks from Michael J. Fox, director Robert Zemeckis, and others. The upstate New York-set horror flick Wendigo offers some thrills; then on Dec. 27, Clint Eastwood's Blood Work arrives with the usual extras—but apparently the veteran star was too old and tired to provide a feature commentary. For pure, illogical action, both Trapped and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever street on Dec. 24.