Apocalypse NowÂ – Full Disclosure Edition
I avoided watching Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s masterpiece out of my mild discontent with Conradâ€™s Heart of Darkness. But watching it for the first time a few years ago immediately discredited my misplaced reservations towards the novel and Coppola as an auteur. Within the first hour, I realized exactly how many misconceptions I had about the film. How or why I actually avoided such a universally acclaimed film for so long never ceases to amaze me, but now, I am grateful that I have seen it. It is one of the rare films that can be taken seriously when referred to on â€œBest ofâ€ or â€œGreatest Filmsâ€ lists.
Apocalypse Now has been historically acknowledged as being one of the biggest disasters of filmmaking history. There were budgetary problems, script problems, Marlon Brando arrived overweight, Martin Sheen almost died, and the set got destroyed. However, somehow at the Cannes International Film Festival, the screening prevailed and the film eventually went on to earn the festivalâ€™s highest honor and a Best Picture nomination.
Thankfully, the home releases of the film have been of the opposite nature, beginning with the incredible, Apocalypse Now Redux which featured several extended sequences. An entire documentary was made about the making of the film, entitled, Hearts of Darkness. This collection contains the original film, the Redux edition, and the documentary. All come with directorâ€™s commentary and directorâ€™s wife commentary. Also availableÂ are plentyÂ wonderful special features that document filmâ€™s development. This collection goes the limit, packing over nine hours of special features. It is an intimidating, but wonderful collection. So, needless to say, I won’t review all of it. There is a lot here, and IÂ trust those of you who religiously pursue this film, already own this, and those who don’t probably won’t take the time to watchÂ this stuff at all. But to those it concerns, the material is wonderful, at least what IÂ have seen so far.Â It is interesting to analyzeÂ the source material, the shooting without a script, the application of the source material to the Vietnam War, and the legacy created by the film, it is all here in flying colors.
The highlight of this release, however, is not the special features; it is the pure joy of viewing this classic in the light of hi-def blu-ray. If you have a player, I strongly recommend having a look; it really is a wonderful movie whose visuals suit the new technology quite well. Apocalypse Now did, after all, invent new visual and audio technology, so it is only fitting that this film gets treated to the best of the best. Well, here it is.
This is a quiet, sweet, unassuming film from earlier this year that features three quality performances from some of the finest actresses around. Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall all are very sincere as they deliver their lines in this thoughtful drama about those who are well-off and how they view those who are not off too well.
It is directed by Nicole Holofcener, whose Friends with Money is one of the more entertaining genre films of the dramedy variety, and the only good film Jennifer Aniston has ever made. The film centers on a couple, Alex and Kate, who run a furniture business and are quite successful. They bought another apartment, for the sake of a cozier lifestyle, but they buy it under the condition that they canâ€™t move in until the occupant, an elderly woman, passes away.
As Kate continues to thrive, she becomes a little disheartened by ripping people off, and the presence of homeless people around her. The film is not an Oscar card, but I appreciate the filmâ€™s quiet, low-key tone and its unique approach to addressing simplistic and thematically common morals.
This is a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill release. You know the drill: directorâ€™s commentary, one short feature about the director that was quickly and cheaply edited and spliced together. All-in-all, the feature did nothing for me. It is a decent enough movie. But it is thoroughly uncontroversial and there is nothing spectacular technologically or developmentally to highlight. Ultimately, the feature is pretty valueless.
But for a movie that held a small premier at the Berlin Film Festival and then opened to a moderate, limited release, this release is probably all the film needs.
On the Art of DVDs:
Apocalypse Now has had a variety of artistic representations, all of them quite good. The latest features Sheenâ€™s face shrouded in green and white, topped off with the now-famous writing across the top. The Redux edition, the most recent in my memory, is somewhat bland, but still alarmingly fitting in its simplicity.
Please Give had a perfectly mediocre advertising run. I liked the cartoon hand and heart, the people aimlessly floating at the bottom, brought it down a bit though. But that is much better than its DVD treatment which allows for each of the main characters to be reduced to rather generic profiles that were not even attempted to be combined. Instead we get four squares, with a fifth one awkwardly lingering at the bottom. Fail.
This week had a lot to offer, particularly in the blu-ray realm, but there wasnâ€™t much that interested me enough to focus, hence the late report. For that, I apologize. Back to blu-ray. On top of Apocalypse Now, we get Seven Samurai, the third and fourth Harry Potter films, a Baz Luhrmann pairing, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Take your pick.
In mainstream releases, the choices are pretty slim. First up is Predators. This is essentially a way to capitalize on the recent developments of the monster genre. With Cloverfield, Alien vs. Predator, and the announcement of an Alien prequel, this genre is getting a lot of attention. But attention does not lead to quality.
We also have Disneyâ€™s Oceans, which as far as Iâ€™m concerned, nobody saw. I think this was an attempt to pull in the same crowd as March of the Penguins, but Iâ€™m not even sure of that. All I know is, this did not get the same attention, from the critics or mainstream audiences. Count me out.
Film Misery Recommends
Apocalypse Now is spectacular in any addition, check out the latest edition if you have a blu-ray or are a hardcore fan. Please Give is the best of the new releases, all in all, a weak week.