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Bottle Rocket (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Wes Anderson first illustrated his lovingly detailed, slightly surreal cinematic vision in this witty and warm portrait of three young middle-class misfits. Fresh out of a mental hospital, gentle Anthony (Luke Wilson) finds himself once again embroiled in the machinations of his best friend, elaborate schemer Dignan (Owen Wilson). With the aid of getaway driver Bob (Robert Musgrave), they develop a needlessly complex, mildly successful plan to rob a small bookstore then go on the lam. Also featuring Lumi Cavazos as Inez, the South American housekeeper Anthony falls in love with, and James Caan as local thief extraordinaire Mr. Henry, Bottle Rocket is a charming, hilarious, affectionate look at the folly of dreamers. Shot against radiant southwestern backdrops, it s the film that put Anderson and the Wilson brothers on the map.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL BLU-RAY EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Wes Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack
Commentary by director/co-writer Anderson and co-writer/star Owen Wilson
The Making of Bottle Rocket : an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, James L. Brooks, James Caan, Temple Nash Jr., Kumar Pallana, Polly Platt, Mark Mothersbaugh, Robert Musgrave, Richard Sakai, David and Sandy Wasco, Andrew and Luke and Owen Wilson, and Robert Yeoman
The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
Eleven deleted scenes
Anamorphic screen test, storyboards, location photos, and behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
The Shafrazi Lectures, no. 1: Bottle Rocket
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by executive producer James L. Brooks, an appreciation by Martin Scorsese, and original artwork by Ian Dingman
A hilarious, inventive, and goofy breath of fresh air. --The Washington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
MISSING: Originally, during the book store robbery, Anthony grabs a random book off the shelf and opens it, revealing the title page "Job Opportunities in Government - 1995" which always gave me a little chuckle. Now for some reason the book opens to a black and white photograph of a military plane (it goes by so fast you'd have to freeze frame to make it out.) ** UPDATE *** per the new Wes Anderson coffee table book, we learn that the military plane shot was in the original cut ( a bit of non-sequitor humor... you think Anthony is reading something important enough to distract him from the business of robbing the store, only to discover its a completely off-topic, random photograph.) The studio wanted a more obvious laugh so they had Wes reshoot the "Job Opportunities..." title page (which, if you look closely, was just taped into the book). This Criterion edition restores the original shot.The Wes Anderson Collection
ADDED: Originally, when Bob hands his earnings over to Future Man to cover his attorney fees, he asks if he can keep a few bucks for gas, and the scene ends. Now the scene plays a few seconds longer, and we hear Future Man's reply: "No, you can't."
In addition to these minor (and somewhat baffling) changes, I was also unable to find any images of the one-sheet art or logo anywhere on this set (as appears on the menu page and sleeve of the original release).
So if you're a hardcore Bottle Rocket fan or completist, hang onto your old disc and buy this set as well. In addition to a beautiful transfer, commentary track, documentary, the original short film, and other extras, the booklet insert is a miniature replica of Dignan's 75-Year Plan notebook, along with reproductions of Anthony's drawing of Inez on horseback, the book store heist plan schematics, etc.
Released in 1996, the film would be the directorial debut for Wes Anderson ("RUSHMORE", "THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS", "Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou") and the debut of the Wilson brothers: Owen Wilson (Co-writer) and Luke Wilson (plus brother Andrew) and Robert Musgrave who all grew up together in Texas.
Back in 1992, the first initial concept of "BOTTLE ROCKET" was shot in 16mm film on B&W after the group was able to raise about $4,000 and raise more money and eventually have the 13 minutes extra to have a short film and submit it to the Sundance Film Festival in 1994.
After being screened for the festival, the film was able to attract a few producers who were willing to invest in making "BOTTLE ROCKET" to a full-length film and thus, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson had their first major opportunity.
As the story goes, the film did terrible in its first test screening which shocked everyone. The film then had its final released cut which then was released in theaters in 1996 and the film bombed. In fact, to everyone's surprie, the film couldn't even get screened at Sundance (where the short film version was able to be screened years prior).
But there were many people who loved the film and for critics, it was a critically acclaimed film that some critics were quite passionate about such as the LA Times (blasting Sundance Film Festival for not screening it) and then followed by director Martin Scorsese calling it one of his favorite films in the 1990's, the film reached cult-status.
Flash forward 12 years later and with three of Wes Anderson's films released on THE CRITERION COLLECTION on DVD, what an awesome way to kick off THE CRITERION COLLECTION's entry to Blu-ray in Dec. 2008 with the release of "BOTTLE ROCKET", Anderson's first film.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
THE CRITERION COLLECTION is all about gathering the greatest films around the world and publish them in the highest technical quality but the focus is to present the film the way the original director intended. For film fans, THE CRITERION COLLECTION is known for its quality and rarely do fans question the releases, the releases are embraced as fans are introduced to important classics or contemporary films.
For "BOTTLE ROCKET", the film is presented in its original aspect ration of 1:85:1. The film's presentation was supervised and approved by Wes Anderson and the Director of Photography Robert Yeoman. The high definition transfer was scanned on a Spirit 2K Datacine from a 35mm interpositive and thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Resotration System and Pixel Farm's PFClean.
The video quality of this film looks great especially for a film created in the early to mid-90's. Typically films released on Blu-ray during these years have been clean but have this softness effect where the vibrancy of the colors are not as beautiful as I would like it to be. With "BOTTLE ROCKET", the film had many outdoor scenes and literally from the red's to the blues and greens and the yellow jumpsuit that the guys wear, these colors are vibrant in Blu-ray HD.
As for audio, audio was mastered at 24-bit from the original magnetic tracks and audio restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss and crackle. The film is primarily a dialogue based film, thus a lot of the audio is coming from your front channel speakers. There are scenes with gunshots and music that come out quite live on your home theater channels but the film is primarily a dialogue-based film.
For the special features, the following are included:
* AUDIO COMMENTARY - A commentary featuring Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. The commentary is not more on the filmmaking perspective but more of nostalgia as the guys talk about memories of people they worked with, areas they shot and how some of the people on the crew have moved on to bigger things.
* THE MAKING OF "BOTTLE ROCKET" - A featurette with interviews with Wes Anderson, the Owens brothers, James Caan, Kumar Pallana, the producers and more. You learn a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the film from creating the short film, Sundance, how the test screening was a bomb, how the film was not a commercial success but became a cult hit and much more. Great insight on the actors about being part of the job, how they were able to get James Caan for the film and how the producers felt about the talent at the time. A fun and informative documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman.
* The Bottle Rocket Shorts - The actual 13-minute B&W short film that was created back in 1992.
* Storyboards - Wes Anderson's original storyboards and sketches for the film.
* Anamorphic Test - Anamorphic test shots of several scenes from the film and how Anderson originally planned to shoot the film in widescreen Panavision. Test shots.
* "The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1 Bottle Rocket" - A guy who is reviewing the film and talking about why he loved it.
* "Murita Cycles" - A Short film created Barry Braverman (friend and collaborator for Anderson and the Wilson family) about his father, a Staten Island bicycle shop owner which inspired the guys to create "BOTTLE ROCKET".
* Behind-the-Scenes Photograps by Laura Wilson - The Wilson brothers also had a talented mother who is a photographer that took pictures of Wes, Owen and Luke during the planning stages of the film and also at Sundance.
* Deleted Scenes - There were a quite a number of scenes that were cut and eleven featured on the disc. Scenes that would have explained how "Futureman" got his name, what Dignan and Applejack were up to when they went to by Bob's place, another scene of how the pot was found in Bob's home and much, much more.
Also included is a booklet that features an appreciation by director Martin Scorsese (which is a tribute that appeared in the March 2000 issue of ESQUIRE Magazine), an essay book by executive producer James L. Brooks (written as an introduction to the "RUSHMORE" screenplay published in 1999) which really goes into detail of how "BOTTLE ROCKET" was created and things that happened behind-the-scenes not mentioned on the special features and artwork by Ian Dingman.
"BOTTLE ROCKET" is just an amazing, awkward and hilarious film. Forget about the "Oceans #" type of films that try to bring comedy to heist films, BOTTLE ROCKET" was special because it came from these young people who were not known at the time but their vision of filmmaking and storytelling just sticks into your mind.
You know that feeling about pulling a prank that got a lot of laughs during your younger years and you remember it to this day. This is how I felt about certain scenes from "BOTTLE ROCKET". There were a lot of humor that was not meant to be taken in as a joke but for these characters of Dignan, Anthony and Bob, you can't help but be entertained and laugh.
From memorable scenes of the group putting tape on top of their noses before their heist, to how rob the bookstore but at the same time, those being held hostage just look at them as non-dangerous and almost humorous (despite Dignan carrying a gun).
And then scenes of love as Anthony falls for this woman who can't speak any English and goes where she goes as she cleans each hotel room and just falls in love. And his far out drawings of his love for Inez.
And also the team assembled by Dignan for their major heist. One would think, why he would select really old men (especially one who had some major memory loss issues) to bring with him for a major robbery? But you realize it's Dignan and you just accept his approach to pulling of a heist and enjoy the ride.
There are many of these moments in the film that you just think back and just be amazed of how much of those type of scenes were included. Wes Anderson and Owen Williams are just an amazing duo and although at the time, they were not known in the industry, it just showed you how much potential these guys had when they first emerged and eventually they would go on to have successful careers making many more films together.
As for the Blu-ray disc, again, THE CRITERION COLLECTION manages to pull of another wonderful release. Wonderful picture quality that is vibrant in colors and again, I've reviewed many major films released in the early and mid-90's and although cleaned up, never have the vibrancy or sharpness but this softness that always bugged me. This was not the case of "BOTTLE ROCKET", the film looks great!
And the amount of special features and also the booklet that really help enhance one's appreciation for the film. You wouldn't expect anything less from CRITERION and sure enough, they delivered.
"BOTTLE ROCKET" is a fun, hilarious and well-written film that is so different from any film that has come out. It's not a moronic film, nor is it a serious heist film. It's just a film that is just all-out fun and one can understand why it has become a popular cult film.
I recently watched it a 2nd time and thought I wasn't all that into it... until near the end, when it suddenly got me on a deeper level emotionally than on first viewing. There's something in it about the loss of childhood dreams that resonates beyond the silly and playful surface. Always a good sign when a film deepens with time and re-visiting.
Of course Criterion do their usual great job with both the transfer and the extras, and seeing the original short film is very interesting
and a lot of fun in it's own right.