Reviews of Region 2 discs from Ultimate DVD #11

FIGHT CLUB
MAGNOLIA
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

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FIGHT CLUB • Back to top Rated: 18
Let's talk about Fight Club...

The Movie

Following the cinematic experiences that were Se7en and The Game, David Fincher continues his mission to screw with the minds, bodies and souls of unsuspecting audiences and critics. Working on too many levels to count, this edgy, existentialist satire is, depending on how you look at it: a) an attack on modern consumerism; b) a dark dissection of male bonding rituals; c) a showcase for Fincher's astonishingly off-kilter imagination; d) a disorientating exercise in storytelling ingenuity; or e) lots of nutty people beating the crap of each other, both physically and mentally. I vote for all of the above.

Above all this, the film is simply a one-off. The acting of Norton, Pitt and Bonham Carter is sensationally demented, the way the camera crawls, thrusts and spins around every dingy inch of the frame is extraordinary, the throbbing collage of noises and rhythms provided by the Dust Brothers are magnificent, and the gradual escalation of blackly comic events to fever pitch is hypnotic.

But, the more you watch the movie (this was my fourth viewing), the harder the final act twist is to swallow - SPOILER ALERT: how many times does Norton have conversations with himself without anyone batting an eyelid?! For me, unlike say The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense, it disintegrates under closer scrutiny. That said, two thirds of a masterpiec4 stars - Damn Good Disce is closer than most get.

The Extras

Pop open the champers! Aside from three out of the four Region 1 commentaries doing a runner, this is essentially the same two-disc release. If you laid all the extras end-to-end, they could circle the globe three times. Ish.

Luckily, the remaining commentary (on the first disc, alongside the film) is the crucial one, featuring wise words from Fincher, Norton, Pitt and Bonham Carter (recorded on a different day and perhaps different continent). The lads clearly bonded during the 138-day shoot and their informal observations make this the DVD equivalent of eavesdropping on an unusually smart, funny and insightful filmy pub conversation.

The least exciting extras are the bios for 18 members of cast and crew. The rest are so interesting and expansive, they may require a change of underwear... (For a full review of this superlative package, see magazine - Web Ed)

The word is awesome, and with Fincher's trippy visuals and the Dust Bros' block-rocking beats invading your brain on the excellent transfer, this is a DVD worth beating yourself up over. The first rule of 5 stars - Digital DynamiteFight Club is: BUY THIS NOW!

Jason Caro

Credits
Fight Club - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Cast
Brad Pitt
Edward Norton
Helena Bonham Carter
Director • David Fincher
Year • 1999
Duration • 133 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.40:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 36
Languages • English
Subtitles • English for the hearing impaired
UK Release • November 6
Distributor • 20th Century Fox

 
 

Highlight

Chapter 20 – The Middle Children of History
The annoyed owner of Lou's Tavern gives Brad the beating of his life, but the cackling Pitt still comes out on top. Horribly hilarious

 
 
Region 1 Fight Club review from Ultimate DVD #07
 
 

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This review from Ultimate DVD #11

MAGNOLIA • Back to top Rated: 18
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know...

The Movie

Magnolia is a work of contradictions: fractured but cohesive, an anthology of interlinked narratives, it's a movie about the coincidences that connect 12 disparate people during one unsettled day in the San Fernando Valley. Themes of cancer, coke habits, infidelity, regrets, estrangement, bitterness and suicide filter through the kaleidoscopic script, as these characters - in large and small ways - touch each others' lives.

Some critics have referred to Magnolia as a tapestry, and that's as good a comparison as any, as Anderson skilfully weaves a vast picture full of colour, shading and perspective. It's a film of cumulative intensity, in which the director skilfully leaps across narrative threads, his roving camera gliding between these different individuals who are all - at one stage literally - singing the same song.

With wonderful work from Moore (as the opportunist who has found love), Robards (as the dying man who wants to be reunited with his son) and Cruise (as the self-proclaimed sex priest and 'Master of the Muffin'), Magnolia is a triumph. 5 stars - Digital DynamiteOwn it and cherish it.

The Extras

A two-disc release; disc one contains the movie, disc two offers the extras.

Typically Entertainment are almost apologetic about the content. Sleeve notes profess that the screen ratio is 16:9 (it's actually a gorgeous 2.40:1), while the impressive list of extra material gets just a cursory nod. Are they actually trying to sell their release or what? Worse still, 12 chapters for a three-hour movie is just pointless.

Onto the additional value disc, Colour Bars is essentially a gag reel, comprising eight minutes of on-set giggles. There's some improvisation on the game show, a singing naked bum, a disastrous steadicam move and some great Cruise corpsing that Dennis Norden must be itching to get hold of.

The Frank TJ Mackay Seminar features an extended version of the existing sequence, while Mackay Infomercial sells the services of Seduce and Destroy - and promises instant access to the "naughty sauce". There's also the teaser, theatrical trailer, nine TV Spots, plus the brilliant video to Aimee Mann's Save Me, which is a cut above the expected clip-fest. Shot on set with the cast, this triumphantly stylish promo shows Mann singing to each of Magnolia's characters on the set.

No director's commentary, but Anderson's Magnolia Diary, shot between October 1998 and March 2000, offers 75 minutes of candid footage following the movie's production. From the completion of the script, through to production meetings, early rehearsals, the first shot, filming frogs, into an exhaustive over-run, this mesmerizing piece offers candid behind-the-scenes access. There's even footage of the press junket, the première and the Berlin Film Festival, creating a broad picture of Magnolia's history. The best bit: Anderson larking around on the set of the game show, asking questions of the cast and crew: "How many takes do you think I'll do?", 5 stars - Damn Good Disc"How much money will this movie make?"

David Richardson

Credits
Magnolia - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Cast
Tom Cruise
William H Macy
Julianne Moore
Jason Robards
Director • PT Anderson
Year • 2000
Duration • 186 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.40:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 12
Languages • English
Subtitles • English
UK Release • September 18
Distributor • Entertainment

 

Highlights

Chapter 5 – Momentum
An amazing performance from Moore as Linda Partridge vents her spleen at the unhelpful pharmacists.

Chapter 9 – Wise Up
Earl Partridge (Robards) reveals "The biggest regret of my life". Beautifully played, as his monologue continues as a voice-over into other strands of the story.

 
 

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from Ultimate DVD #11

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN • Back to top Rated: 15

A home cinema experience that will leave your nerves in shreds

The Movie

Less a film and more an emotional scar, Saving Private Ryan is - bit of a bold statement this - Spielberg's most accomplished film. It's not necessarily his best movie, but to create such a horrendously realistic recreation of conflict and still make it as gripping, thrilling and engaging as this, is an achievement that has been overlooked by the many who have gone into rapture about the astounding Omaha beach footage.

Aside from the unnecessary cemetery book-ends and one brief scene that just doesn't work at all (the pivotal discovery that three telegrams are going out to the same mother, needed a more subtle approach), the film is close to genius. The performances are stunning across the board - though, ironically, the greatest work of Hanks's career ended his run of back-to-back Oscars - and the camerawork, sound and make-up effects are light years ahead of any other war film you'd care to mention. How the hell did Shakespeare in Love5 stars - Digital Dynamite beat this to Best Picture?

The Extras

The bleached-out, shaky cam images work powerfully on DVD, but it's the sensational sound mixing and effects that make this one of the most spectacular (and frightening) aural home cinema experiences to date.

Given the nearly three-hour running time of the film, you shouldn't expect too many extras. A couple of expertly edited trailers are here, though, as is a fascinating 25 minute documentary entitled Into the Breach, which covers an amazing amount of ground for such a short feature. Cast and crew interviews, reminiscences from D-Day survivors and actual footage of the fateful day, and even an insight into Spielberg's fascination with the '30s and '40s. There's also a second documentary, Return to Normandy; not amazing extras then, but it's one of those rare discs you'd 3 stars - Worth a Watchbuy for the movie alone.

Jason Caro

Credits
Saving Private Ryan - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Cast
Tom Hanks
Ed Burns
Tom Sizemore
Matt Damon
Ted Danson
Director • Steven Spielberg
Year • 1998
Duration • 162 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.85:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 20
Languages • English
Subtitles • English, English for the hearing impaired
Release Date • November 6
Distributor • Paramount

 

Highlight

Chapter 18 – Alamo
The most frantic section of the magnificent climactic battle. The moment when the German tank lumbers into the trench behind Hanks and Damon, is my favourite shot of the movie.

 

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from Ultimate DVD #11

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction

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