To make up for the craptacular selection last week, the DVD Powers that Be have released last year's Oscar Big Deal plus a flick that I actually preferred.
Million Dollar Baby
Say what you will about the plot point (which I’ll let remain a mystery, though everyone and their mother pretty much knows by now) or that this resulted in Scorsese’s fifth Best Director snub (not to mention Hilary Swank’s second Best-Actress-spanking of Annette Bening), but the bottom line is that this is a masterfully crafted film. Witness Paul Haggis’ outstanding dialogue, the riveting dynamic between Morgan Freeman (Best Supporting Actor, finally) and Clint Eastwood, the understated direction, beautiful lighting, and incredible performance from Swank. Does it all add up to as fulfilling an entertainment as, say, the next film on our list? For my money, no. But if you haven’t seen this, it’s a must-rent, if not a must-own.
Oh, and it won some sort of award for Best Picture.
Professional sycophant James Lipton hosts one of the extras, a three-way (roundtable) with Freeman, Eastwood, and Swank. I can only imagine how much he’ll prostrate himself with these luminaries. Ten bucks says he begs Swank to punch him in the mouth.
If you want to spend an extra fifteen bucks or so you can get the package that includes the soundtrack, which wasn’t awesome, in my opinion, but has the cache of being written by Eastwood.
A Very Long Engagement
A very underrated film which garnered some Oscar mention but not nearly enough. A Best Director nom should have been a given for Jean Pierre-Jeunet, who employs the quirky, playful style of Amelie to a wholly different effect. Audrey Tatou is wonderful, as usual, and is building up a pretty serious resume (Dirty Pretty Things, the aforementioned Amelie, a bunch of indie crap neither of us has ever heard of). At least Bruno Delbonnel’s amazing cinematography and Aline Bonetto’s golden art direction got some Oscar love. For more of me gushing about this flick, go to my Top Ten of Last Year.
This two-disc set is loaded with extras, including commentary by Jeunet, deleted scenes, a doc on Paris in the 20’s, and a doc devoted to the amazing zeppelin explosion late in the film. (When you see it, you’ll know why it deserves its own doc).
Tales from the Crypt – The First Season
I remember when this show first aired on HBO and I was just beginning to have an awareness of who different directors were. There was Richard Donner, director of my beloved Lethal Weapon helming an episode. And the guy who did Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis, in charge of one. And the premiere episode was from 48 Hours director Walter Hill. I was impressed.