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Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection Blu-ray Review - Page 2

Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection

Apocalypse Now (1979), Apocalypse Now Redux (2001),
The Conversation (1974),
One from the Heart (1982),
Tetro (2009)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

2.40:1 Widescreen, 1.78:1 Widescreen, 1.33:1 Fullscreen
All: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); Some: 2.0 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Some: French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: December 4, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Four single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s) / Thick Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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Collection Overview and Film Reviews

Tetro (Vincent Gallo) gives his younger brother Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) a talking to in Francis Ford Coppola's Buenos Aires drama.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Blu-ray presents both edits of Apocalypse Now in their original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. Director of photography Vittorio Storaro had previously reframed the film to 2.0:1 for DVD for reasons only understood by him.
This time, though, the film's entire width remains visible. The picture quality isn't perfect, but it is very good, with shortcomings both rare and minor. The element is largely clean, detailed, and vibrant (supposedly a good deal more vibrant than it originally was), though the film's age is still evident in certain shots. In addition, the anamorphic filming process renders parts of the frame out of focus. There seems little doubt that BD presents this classic film at its very best. Even better is the movie's 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. Apocalypse boasts amazing sound design (the sources of one of its two Oscar wins), and this fantastic mix is sure to electrify any home theater with its crisp, even, effective, and appropriately enveloping audio.

The oldest film in this set, The Conversation shows its age. Its 1.78:1 presentation has a distinctive 1970s look to it. There is a fair amount of grain and some scattered minor artifacts. Most '70s films would be delighted to look so presentable on Blu-ray, but compared to Coppola's other triumphs from the decade, this lowest-budgeted one leaves the most room for improvement. Even so, its soundtrack, whether in the Walter Murch-supervised 5.1 DTS-HD master audio remix or the more faithful 2.0 DTS-HD master audio, is a delight. I can't think of any other film that makes as potent use of sound, so its nice rendering of chilling distortions and unforgettable score is especially appreciated.

The youngest film in this set, Tetro shows its lack of age. The 2.40:1 picture is virtually flawless, showing off the handsome black and white photography. Most of the color scenes appear in windowboxed 1.78:1 and they too look great as well as vibrant. The image boasts great detail, terrific clarity, and appropriate sharpness. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also pleases, with its dialogue, music, and occasional atmosphere. A significant amount of the film's dialogue is in Spanish, which hard-coded subtitles translate in a clean and timely fashion.

Like the Academy Ratio 1930s and 1940s musical that inspired it, One from the Heart is presented in the narrow 1.33:1. It looks decent for its age. It has quite a bit of grain, plus sharpness and detail are a tad lacking. Also, there are some minor but easily fixable woes, like a noticeable hair that lingers in a shot and a few bad frames here and there. Up-close inspection on BD-ROM revealed faults not noticeable in standard television playback. The film's 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack, meanwhile, presents the Tom Waits songs at a much higher volume than the dialogue. At least it does that initially; either I got used to it or that was only done for the opening titles' song.

Francis Ford Coppola directs Gene Hackman in "Close-Up on 'The Conversation.'" Harrison Ford is screen-tested across from Cindy Williams.

BONUS FEATURES

Since we only get the first of Apocalypse Now's three available Blu-ray discs, the only extra for it is Francis Ford Coppola's audio commentary, attached to both edits.
It is the same track on each cut, recorded sometime prior to 2006, only the theatrical version loses the bits referring to the Redux.

The Conversation's all-HD extras begin with two solo audio commentaries, the first by Coppola and the second by supervising editor and Oscar-winning sound man Walter Murch. Both date back to at least 2000 as they were included on Paramount's original DVD that year.

"Close-Up on The Conversation" (8:39) is a behind-the-scenes featurette from 1974. Such a piece is rare and valuable, as Coppola and Hackman discuss the movie in separate interviews and share thoughts during scenes' candidly-captured collaboration.

The 1972 screen tests of Cindy Williams (5:02), auditioning for the role ultimately filled by Teri Garr, and Harrison Ford (6:45), vying for Frederic Forrest's part on location with Williams, are fascinatingly preserved.

The San Francisco filming locations of "The Conversation" are revisited and compared. Francis Ford Coppola joins David Shire for a piano duet.

"No Cigar" (2:26) has Coppola discuss his first film, a black & white 1956 short film which is silently excerpted here and likened to The Conversation. It's interesting, but it would have been nice to see the entire short.

"Harry Caul's San Francisco - Then and Now 1973 & 2011" (3:43) compares location shots from the film to modern-day photographs from roughly the same angle. It's a nice idea perfectly executed with a piece of score.

"Francis Ford Coppola Interviews David Shire" (10:57) lives up to its title, as the composer plays some of his score, reflects on it, and recalls an amusing screening they and two others all slept through. The warm reunion closes with a duet at the piano.

Gene Hackman discusses Harry Caul and Francis Coppola from the set of "The Conversation." Images from deleted scenes accompany Francis Ford Coppola's script dictations.

An archival Gene Hackman interview from February 1973 (4:04) gathers the actor's thoughts on the production and his director from the set.

Next, Francis Ford Coppola's Script Dictations gives us six audio excerpts (49:23) from Coppola's dictation of the full screenplay recorded at San Francisco's Cafe Trieste a year before filming the movie. The audio plays over photographs, corresponding scenes from the film, and the script itself. It's a little strange, since we could just read the script ourselves, but coming from Coppola himself shortly after wrapping production of The Godfather makes it significant. Also, it includes scenes shot but cut, frames of which are intriguingly shown. It's also interesting to find how close to the script the final film stays.

The disc closes with Paramount's original The Conversation theatrical trailer (2:50), which runs long per the day and amusingly has a narrator addressing Harry Caul. "Also from Lionsgate", meanwhile, advertises the Apocalypse Now Blu-ray, Tetro, The Conspirator, Biutiful, Memento: 10th Anniversary Special Edition, and EPIX.

Some blue screen ballet is shot for "Tetro." Reluctantly agreeing to "The Rehearsal Process" Vincent Gallo takes direction from Francis Ford Coppola, a man he would later disparage.

Tetro's extras begin with an audio commentary by Coppola and actor Alden Ehrenreich, whose discovery IMDb attributes to Steven Spielberg at the bat mitzvah of his daughter's friend.

On the video side, "The Ballet" (8:06) has Coppola commenting over rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage of the blue screen shoots.
"Mihai Malaimaire, Jr.: The Cinematography of Tetro" (8:30) lets Malaimaire discuss shooting the film and in its look. "The Rehearsal Process" (8:33) documents Coppola's typically unorthodox and extensive actor training with comments from the cast and director.

"Osvaldo Golijov: Music Born From the Film" (9:16) reflects on Tetro's prominent and appealing score, with the composer sounding off as a complement to recording session footage. "La Colifata: Siempre Fui Loco (I've Always Been Crazy)" (5:47) takes us behind the scenes of the group therapy, filmed at a real psychiatric hospital with real patients. "Fausta: A Drama in Verse" (4:34) serves up an extended version of the outlandish play at the center of Tetro with bilingual subtitles appearing side by side. Finally, Tetro's end credits (3:32) are presented, just as they are in film. Why, I don't know.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire and Brothers. Tetro's own trailer is absent from its disc.

Variety reports on the sale of Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope in "The Dream Studio." Moe (Harry Dean Stanton) and Hank (Frederic Forrest) hit the laundromat  with Leila in this deleted scene.

First among the all-HD bonus features on One from the Heart is "The Dream Studio" (29:37), a fascinating 2003 documentary consisting largely of behind-the-scenes production footage. It details how this creatively stimulating shoot which attracted big names like Gene Kelly as an uncredited dance consultant, got to the point where Paramount backed out of its distribution deal. Coppola excitingly looks forward to his plans, while press conferences and news reports detail the financial concerns. There is even Coppola's address to exhibitors, clips from talk show appearances, reactions of those attending an advance screening Radio City Music Hall, and reflections from Zoetrope employee and Heathers director Michael Lehmann. Teri Garr narrates this fine piece you can consider a short sequel to Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.

"The Electronic Cinema" (9:58) considers the technical advancements made on the film regarding instant video playback and electronic mattes employed on blue screen shoots. "Tom Waits and the Music of One from the Heart" (14:03) lives up to its title with coverage of Waits' soundtrack contributions, with plenty of thoughts from the artist.

"The Making of One from the Heart" (24:19) is entirely from the early 1980s and it shows. Slightly promotional but very substantial, it serves up interviews and B-roll. It's a good documentary predating the DVD age when these became the norm.

Ten deleted scenes are presented without a "Play All" option. Running 27 minutes and 34 seconds overall, they include an alternate openings and endings, alternate and extended versions of used scenes, plus a couple with Coppola audio commentary.

Teri Garr and Raul Julia rehearse through a travel agency scene with Francis Ford Coppola. Francis Ford Coppola does not like a reporter's questions at his February 1981 press conference from his Las Vegas set. A young Sofia Coppola provides an unusual endorsement of her father's work in this Easter egg.

"Videotaped Rehearsals" provides excerpts (6:55) from the film's extensive, intensive rehearsals,
as Coppola collaborates with his actors and they run through scenes, with transitional text screens shedding some light.

Again lacking a "Play All" option, six alternate tracks from Tom Waits (24:20) are presented in demo form, playing over concept art. These mostly offer variations on the film's numbers or portions of them, with different vocals or as works in progress.

A February 1981 "Press Conference at the Studio" (7:51) has Coppola presenting some early footage and rehearsals, getting upset at a reporter's financial questions, and introducing his cast. The most interesting part seems truncated. I would have loved to see some more uncomfortable exchanges!

"Francis Coppola Speaks to the Exhibitors" (1:30) gives us the director's introduction to exhibitors who were, as required, the first to see the film, in its incomplete state. A music video for "This One's from the Heart" (4:08) adds some unique bits of Waits to clips from the film.

A "Stop Motion Demo" (3:35) has visual effects supervisor Robert Swarthe explain over clips how the film made use of motion control cameras.

Two theatrical trailers are preserved, one from 1982 (3:09) and one for the 2003 restoration (2:16).

From the Set Up menu, you'll see that two non-standard playback options are included, both relating to the musical nature of the film: a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack of isolated score (which drowns out the dialogue and sound effects so that Waits' songs stand alone) and a subtitle track presenting only the film's lyrics, turning your viewing into some kind of sing-along.

Finally, there are some short video clips hidden as Easter eggs: including an outtake from Swarthe, two of young Sofia Coppola promoting the film and explaining the work her father is putting in on the movie, and Francis lamenting the plane's destruction.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Apocalypse Now's menu features a scored, foggy dreamlike montage. The Conversation plays black and white clips in a scope amidst sound effects and the recurring score theme. Tetro's menu plays gray clips amidst lights and the movie's Vincent Gallo cover pose. One from the Heart plays clips in a heart shape atop a neon backdrop.

Tetro's main menu plays clips among rearranged poster art. One from the Heart's brand new Blu-ray menu plays clips in a heart.

Though some of them are slow to load, all the discs support bookmarks, while the two most recent discs (The Conversation and One from the Heart) also managed to resume playback for incomplete movie viewing. If only all Blu-rays could offer both of those touches regularly.

The four discs are held in a thick Blu-ray keepcase, two to each of the swinging trays. There are no inserts, but the case is topped by a nice embossed cardboard slipcover that repeats the keepcase's cover on front but offers a synopsis and image from each film on back.

Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) emerges from a Cambodian river, his face covered in mud, in the rousing finale of "Apocalypse Now."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Two of the films in Lionsgate's Francis Ford Coppola Blu-ray set -- Apocalypse Now and The Conversation -- are masterpieces that deserve a place in every serious film collection. The extended Apocalypse Now edit and other two movies (One from the Heart, Tetro) are not without some problems, but they also have their appeal and share their director's endless ambition. Plus, it's easy to think of them as freebies based on the very reasonable asking price.

Apocalypse Now fans will miss out on that film's bonus disc and the incomparable Hearts of Darkness documentary. The other three movies, however, are as good as you can expect them to be on Blu-ray for the time being, boasting loads of quality extras and generally strong presentations. It's not a perfect or definitive set, but this bundle is guaranteed to hold serious interest for the film buff who has either just gotten a Blu-ray player or is getting one for Christmas.

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Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather Trilogy New York Stories John Grisham's The Rainmaker Bram Stoker's Dracula Jack
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Gene Hackman: Enemy of the State The Royal Tenenbaums | Harrison Ford: Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
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Reviewed December 16, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1974-2012 American Zoetrope and Lionsgate, 1979 MGM, 1974 Paramount & Directors Company, 1982 Columia Pictures,
and 2001 Paramount Pictures. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.