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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 7/13/04

7/13/04 - Weekly Release Roundup

Pretty light week. Bill and I are gearing up for our San Diego DVD-O-Rama-Palooz next week so that's probably a good thing.

The Bourne Identity: Explosive Extended Edition
The Bourne Identity: Explosive Extended Edition

Movie tie-ins. Gotta love 'em. With The Bourne Supremacy coming upon us theatrically, why not re-release The Bourne Identity with a bunch new stuff on DVD? Why not indeed. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) wakes up floating in the ocean with two bullet holes in him. Not knowing who or what he is, he heads to Switzerland where he finds out who he is, but opens a whole can of worms on the what part. Grabbing a pretty young girl (Franka Potente), he heads on a journey to learn what is going on and find out why a bunch of people are trying to kill him. Identity is a fun throw back to the old spy genre when the enemy wasn't super powered or cliché and it was just good guys fighting bad guys. Here the good guy is a former bad guy who doesn't like the idea of who he was and wants to start over and is willing to kill his old co-workers to do it.

Universal re-releases this title as a new "extended" edition, but don't be fooled. The extension is not part of the film. The transfer is the same as the original special edition, but here is a new opening thrown into the supplements non-anamorphically and the alternate ending that was a "deleted scene" from the first edition. The commentary from the first edition with director Doug Liman is excluded, as is the DTS soundtrack. We do get some nice (but fluffy) featurettes though. A New Identity is an introduction to the extended footage by producer Frank Marshall, writer Tony Gilroy and actor Brian Cox. The Bourne Mastermind is a look at Robert Ludlum, writer of the Bourne Trilogy. An interview with writer Tony Gilroy is in AccessGranted. A medical overview of Bourne's amnesia is called The Bourne Diagnostic. Cloak and Dagger focuses on the real CIA and how fiction and non-fiction compare with the film. The Speed of Sound is a look at the film's sound design. Inside a Fight Sequence is just that and From Identity to Supremacy is an interview with Matt Damon and Franka Potente. Also on board are the four deleted scenes from the first release, as well as the Moby video, production notes/cast and crew bios and trailers for upcoming DVD releases from Universal. If you don't already own the first release, pick this one up. The film is actually pretty good. If you already own it on DVD, I don't see why this would be a re-buy unless you're just a huge fan. But if you do, don't loose the other copy -- it still has a nice commentary and the DTS track.

The Dreamers The Dreamers

There're two versions of this film on DVD, an NC-17 version and an R Rated version, but why skimp on the details, huh? Get yourself a copy of the NC-17. Even though the rating is scary, Bertolucci's use of "offensive" sex and nudity is handled beautifully. In my book, more is always better when it comes to Bertolucci.

It all starts in early 1968 when the founder of the Cinematheque Francais, Henri Langlois, is fired by the government. The students and cinephiles aggressively protest - which slowly leads to government instability with workers and citizens starting to protest for their own reasons. The city of Paris is thrown in utter turmoil and, and, and... you know what? That's really not what this movie is about. That's the backdrop. The overall reason the leads of the film connect in the first place, but that's not what this film is about. The film is really about the shattered innocence of three people: Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American college student from California who is in Paris studying French but actually spending all of his time at the Cinematheque. It is there that he meets "the twins" Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel).

They are the children of an unnamed French poet and his beautiful British wife. When the poet and his wife head off to the seaside for a month, the twins invite Matthew to stay at their huge Parisian apartment where they partake in smoke, drink and a very liberated sexual lifestyle.

At first Matthew thinks these twins are incestuously linked after he spies them sleeping naked in Theo's bed or, when failing to answer a movie trivia question, Isabelle "forces" Theo to masturbate against a picture of Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel. But he soon comes to learn that although they are precocious and sexually flamboyant, they are as naive as he is and their cocoon -- their way of dealing with life, is to live as though they are perpetually 6 years of age when baths with your sister or "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" are "appropriate" (please don't get onto me about your feelings about whether or not that behavior is EVER appropriate). And although Matthew plays along, even going as far as falling in love with the two of them, he can't get over the feeling that what the three of them are doing is wrong. All this leads to a symbolic "growing up" for the three of them when choices are made to either keep living the way they always have, or move on to a turbulent world or even turning around and walking away from the whole thing. Deep on psychological symbolism, sly film trivia references and beauty found in trash, The Dreamers is a thoroughly engaging and fulfilling viewing experience. It's a wonderful film and one I see myself watching again a few times in the near future. And not because of the lovely Eva Green.

Fox releases this film on DVD as a nice special edition. The video is clean and clear but not something that will overtly impress the home theater fan. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not an obviously great transfer -- even if it is. Sound is rendered as a light DD 5.1 and serves the film fine. The extras include a commentary with Bertolucci, screenplay and novel source writer Gilbert Adair and producer Jeremy Thomas. It's good, but a lot of the ground covered here is covered on the video extras. Those are a nice long BBC documentary on the making of the film entitled Bertolucci Makes the Dreamers that brings us behind the scenes on the film and the history of the events that inspired it. There's a deeper historical look with Outside the Window: Events in France, May, 1968 a freakishly structured featurette from Mark Rance and his Three-Legged Cat friends. It gives a nice historical overview, but it's so very schizophrenic in it's structure (but what Rance featurette isn't these days?) On the cute side is a music video with star Michael Pitt for his Hendrix cover of "Hey Joe" and a selection of theatrical trailers. All together it's a nice package and a worthy film you should consider checking out.

Lone Wolf & Cub: White Heaven in Hell
Lone Wolf & Cub: White Heaven in Hell

In this the sixth and final film of the series, Itto and his son Daigro must continue their epic war against the Yagyu clan and it's leader Lord Retsudo Yagyu. With most of his clan dead at this point, Retsudo is getting desperate and sends in his daughter Kaori, a master of a sword trick that never fails and his illegitimate son Hyouei, a mystic taken in by a mysterious clan of mountain people who use dark arts and the properties of The Earth as their ultimate weapon -- vowing, in a nifty bit of psychological warfare, to kill any person who Itto and his son meet, talk to, touch, purchase from or even look at strange until they can no longer take it and give themselves up. All this leads up to the famous battle on a snowcapped mountain where Itto must do battle with over a thousand warriors.

If you're looking for an end to the confrontation between Itto and Yagyu, forget it. Even though this is the last film in the series, there is no end in sight and that ends up being a bit anti-climatic. There are other films based on the Lone Wolf saga, but they don't feature Tomisaburo Wakayama as Itto nor are they available here in the states. Oh, well. Maybe someday. Animeigo does another great job with this DVD. The anamorphic widescreen video is a solid transfer and the sound is good in a simple DD mono. Extras include liner notes on the disc and as an insert, and trailers for this film, Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman and both Lady Snowblood films.

Poker for Dummies
Poker for Dummies

There's not much to review here, but it's worth a mention based on all the people I know playing Texas Hold 'em. Hold 'em's like the new Team Trivia. Everyone is joining together and having Hold 'em nights at the local pubs. Since I don't know how to play poker, I never get a chance to play. Now I have no excuse. Co-hosts Barry Shulman and Chris Moneymaker, champion of the 2003 World Series of Poker (seen endlessly on ESPN lately; he's the one with the cap and Oakley-type sunglasses) takes us through the how and tos of playing poker with all the basic rules, card sets and tricks you could ever need to get started. He even has a few tricks for the mediocre player out there. There's a lot of stuff to learn and you'll probably have to gleam some stuff here and there, apply it, then come back and review a few times before you "catch" everything, but it's a good tool to get you started at least. It looks good in a nice full frame and standard DD 2.0. Extras include a booklet on slang and "hand rankings" of card sets.

Un Deux Trois Soleil
Un Deux Trois Soleil

Bertrand Blier directs this often confusing, surrealist and Felliniesque look at life, love and responsibility. But as confusing as the film can be, it's hypnotically beautiful. Most of that is due to the acting by Anouk Grinberg and Marcello Mastroianni who play daughter and drunken father. The film flips in and out of different age periods in Grinberg's life (with her playing her different ages) which can cause you to not really know what's going on and only assuming when she's making love to Oliver Martinez (Faithful & SWAT) that she's of age. The presence of Mastroianni solidifies its Fellini influences and with all said and done, it's an interesting contemporary French film worth your time and patience. This DVD from Home Vision presents the film in a nice anamorphic widescreen with DD 2.0 sound. Extras include a liner note booklet written by Sue Harris and filmography for Blier.

Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman
Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman

Honestly, I JUST got this flick on DVD for review, and since this is one I've never seen I'm going to give it a spin tonight and come back with a review ASAP. Look to this spot for an update.

Key TV releases this week include...

Farscape: Season 4, Volume 5Justice League: Star CrossedProject Greenlight 2

Farscape: Season 4, Volume 5 (which completes the series), Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Season 4, Justice League: Star Crossed and Project Greenlight 2.

Also available today...

After ImageManchurian Candidate: Special EditionI Like It Like That

...After Image, Meg Ryan going against type (again) in Against the Ropes. Without Hilary Duff, who cares? Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. The Assassination Bureau, The Barbarian Invasions, Bent and The Counterfeit Traitor. Ron Howard isn't the only evil Howard: EvilSpeak. Grrrls get it on too The 5th Musketeer. I Like It Like That shows that I don't. The Manchurian Candidate: Special Edition isn't very special except for a new transfer that isn't much better than the old one and mostly the same extras. When you're DMX you Never Die Alone. I learned last week not to cover political films because I LOVE AMERICA! But here's another one: Outfoxed: Robert Murdoch's War on Journalism. Shelter Island, John Landis take a walk into the documentary world with Slasher. The Soldier's Tale, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Tempo and Danny Boyle's Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise.

Until next time...

Todd Doogan

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