Wild At Heart, Special Edition (MGM, 1990) D: David Lynch, w/ Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern. Rating: NNNNN
After one of Wild at Heart's numerous berserk plot moments, Laura Dern's Lula announces, "This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top." She's wrong. This one's pretty much weird all the way down. Based on Barry Gifford's novel, Wild At Heart is a road movie/love story/thriller with Nicolas Cage and Dern as young lovers on the road, pursued by hit men sent by Dern's mom (Diane Ladd, Dern's real mom), most memorably in the form of Willem Dafoe's dentally challenged Bobby Peru.
Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Wild At Heart comes from that historical moment when David Lynch was positioning himself to become the dominant figure in American pop culture, with Twin Peaks on the air and everyone wondering who actually did kill Laura Palmer. The vibrant transfer was supervised by Lynch, and there are some very good extras. Laura Dern fans might note that MGM is also releasing her 1985 Joyce Chopra film Smooth Talk, and next week Warner releases We Don't Live Here Anymore.
EXTRAS Love, Death, Elvis & Oz: The Making Of Wild At Heart, cast and crew interviews, deleted and extended scenes, short contemporary making-of featurette, theatrical trailer, on-set photo gallery. Go to Dell's Lunch Counter and hit the arrows on your remote to find the little features (not exactly Easter eggs, but close). English and Spanish versions, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Warner, 1999-2004) D: Andy and Larry Wachowski, w/ Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne. Rating: NNNNN
Nine hours in and I'm not even halfway through all the making-ofs, featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes.... The Ultimate Matrix Collection will not serve as a conversion experience for anyone who dislikes, say, Revolutions, but for anyone who loves the series, this 10-disc boxed set is the holiday's best stocking stuffer, though the intended recipient had better have a pretty big stocking. The three Matrix films and The Animatrix (nine short films by anime directors exploring the world of The Matrix) all get gorgeous new transfers. The Matrix films have been isolated on single discs with their commentaries, supplements and extras. A fairly careful check indicates that most of the principal extras from the original DVD releases have been included here. (I couldn't find the MTV Movie Awards parody with Will Ferrell's hilarious turn as The Architect, from the Reloaded set, but it might be hiding somewhere.) And there are three whole discs of new documentary extras.
The commentaries are interesting. Who'd have thought that Harvard philosophy professor Cornel West would sound like a drooling fanboy before settling into discussions of the issues raised by the films. And despite the liner note claim, the critics on their commentary track do not hate the films. They like the first one, or at least respect it. But I can understand why they just go silent for long passages of Revolutions during the endless action sequences.
EXTRAS Philosophical commentaries by Cornel West and Ken Wilber, critical commentaries by David Thomson, John Powers and Todd McCarthy, making-of documentaries, featurettes, deleted secenes, expanded scenes, design galleries, storyboards, music videos, trailers and TV spots. English and French versions, with English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20th Century-Fox, 2004) D: Rawson Marshall Thurber, w/ Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn. Rating: NNN
Dodgeball occupies the twilight zone of the smart dumb comedy. Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber notes that he fought for the "alternate ending" and had to be talked off the ledge by his cast. This demonstrates that he's not the source of the smart in the picture, which comes from the conflict between Ben Stiller's egomaniacal gym owner, where the motto is "We're better than you, and we know it," and Vince Vaughn's slacker gym owner, where the motto could be "The towels are kind of fresh." Stiller and Vaughn are very funny together. They're part of a group of youngish comic actors who enjoy working in one another's films; Vaughn was the heavy in Stiller's Starsky And Hutch remake.
This film benefits from gifted supporting players like Stephen Root and Rip Torn, and has a really funny Lance Armstrong cameo. The extras are generally good, though you'd think the gag reel would be funnier.
EXTRAS Director/stars commentary, deleted and expanded scenes, alternate ending, gag reel, Easter eggs, featurettes, theatrical trailer. English, French and Spanish versions, English and Spanish subtitles.
24: Season Three (20th Century Fox) w/ Kiefer Sutherland, Elisha Cuthbert, Dennis Haysbert. Rating: NNNN
Season three of 24 confirms what I suspected around the middle of season two. There is no presiding genius overseeing 24, and no one really has control of the narrative. As of the sixth episode or so, the shooting schedule catches up with the written scripts and they just start making shit up. Season three has Joaquín Almeida's drug lord, terrorists threatening a biological weapons attack, the president weathering vicious personal attacks and Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) trying to recover from the heroin addiction he picked up last season.
Which doesn't mean 24's a bad series. Far from it, but it's less a credible thriller than a surrealist puzzle game where you wait to see what the hell they're going to throw at you next. Jack engineers a prison break! A member of the CTU is a mole for the bad guys! Then he's not! Oliver Stone at his most paranoid couldn't come up with this stuff.
Fox has given the series excellent presentation, and the commentaries are usually to the point. I liked Sutherland's explanation of his acting style in the show: everything Jack says is the most important thing he's ever said in his life.
EXTRAS Director and crew commentaries, extended version of the season premiere, more than 40 deleted scenes, season four promo and trailer. English and Spanish versions and subtitles.
Coming Tuesday, December 14
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, Special Extended Edition (New Line Platinum, 2003) We know the drill. The film is much longer, and there are about six hours of making-of material and commentaries.
Collateral (DreamWorks, 2004) Two-disc special edition of the Michael Mann thriller.
The Door In The Floor (Alliance Atlantis, 2004) Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger in an adultery melodrama based on John Irving's novel A Widow For One Year. Oddly, no one in the film is a widow. Or widower.
We Don't Live Here Anymore (Warner, 2004) Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern and Naomi Watts star in an adultery melodrama based on short stories by Andre Dubus.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb