May – Big releases, little substance. ^ Usually a very active time in DVD, this month saw the bow of many favorites, as well as Hollywood fare such as What Women Want, Antitrust and Vertical Limit to keep Joe Six-pack happy.
The Must Have: Requiem for a Dream and “Big Trouble In Little China: Special Edition” ^ A great big helping of good DVDs were released this month, starting with a great edition of Requiem for a Dream. When Artisan gets it right, they really pull no punches, with two commentaries, a behind the scenes doc and more. Fox’s great two-disc version of “Big Trouble in Little China” was also worth picking up, with a solid transfer and a funny commentary.
The Should Have Been: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” ^ I like to dub this Adventures in Packaging. Columbia Tri-Star was really stretching it with their “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” release. While the movie is presented well, the cardboard slipcase is pure disappointment. A funny tri-fold cardboard design that – God willing -w ill never show its ugly face again. Just getting the damned discs out to watch the movie or supplements is enough to cause headaches. Mine’s already tore along the seams, how about yours?
The Hell No’s: Traffic ^ USA’s shitty release of this great flick boggles the mind. The movie/trailer/EPK combo just isn’t worth the bucks folks. Not when the Region 2 release had over 20 minutes of deleted scenes. There are no documentaries. No interviews (apart from that a*s-kissing EPK) and no commentary though Steven Soderbergh was happy to contribute some yackin’ to the “Catch-22” disc Paramount released a week later. Considering the awards, accolades and box office, you would expect more.
June – Good stuff this way comes ^ With summer just getting revved up, the studios decided to debut a few heavyweights, though they waited until fall to unleash the blockbusters.
The Must Have: Dogma: Special Edition ^ First and foremost would be the Dogma: Special Edition, something fans were clamoring over. Columbia finally got off their a*s and released it, though its edited commentary is something to frown upon. The reason for the delay was because the documentary Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma, got Columbia suits thinking the WASPs of America might not like it, therefore they wouldn’t buy any of their other DVDs…yeah, okay Columbia, whatever you say. Now this documentary (almost an hour in length) is sitting out there somewhere, still waiting to be released. While rumors spread about it being posted on the ‘net, this has yet to happen as of this writing.
The Should Have Been: Vista Series: Unbreakable, “You Can Count On Me” and O Brother Where Art Thou? ^ The first of the Vista Series is a spectacle in the underachievement. What was supposed to be for and by the filmmakers, turned out to be less than stellar. Absent of commentary and a featuring an average documentary, not to mention some deleted scenes – including an alternate ending – that should’ve been included but wasn’t, this was a nice disc with some nice packaging, but not a lot of substance. ^ Kenneth Logan’s “You Can Count On Me” also received a decent treatment, the best that can be expected from Paramount. While the commentary is nice, and the EPK less than filling, we hear nothing from the actors, no documentaries about how the low-budget production was pulled off or any retrospective on the movie itself, other than from the director. One of my favorite films has what will probably be its last DVD incarnation for a long time, and a crappy one at that. ^ Buena Vista gave us the underwhelming O Brother Where Art Thou? A nice, if albeit, restrained release, with a few short documentaries but a wonderful picture and soundtrack. Where is the infamous Coen Brothers commentary? Where are the documentaries about how the now award-winning multi-platinum soundtrack came together? Where is the documentary about the locations or the tribulations of getting this type of movie made?
Get the rest of the list in the next part of FILM THREAT’S 2001 DVD YEAR IN REVIEW: JULY – AUG>>>