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Bottle Rocket - The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
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James Caan stars in this crime comedy directed by Wes Anderson. Three friends, Anthony (Luke Wilson), Dignan (Owen C. Wilson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave) all dream of being on America's most wanted list as notorious thieves. The problem is that they're not very good. As the trio embark upon a series of hare-brained schemes to rob people and companies of their hard-earned money, they realise that they have to work together and learn the true value of friendship.
THE DEBUT FEATURE FROM WES ANDERSON, DIRECTOR OF RUSHMORE AND THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS!
Wes Anderson first illustrated his lovingly detailed, slightly surreal cinematic vision in this witty and warm portrait of three young middleclass 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 EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Wes Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman
- Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on Blu-ray)
- 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, Luke, and Owen Wilson, and Robert Yeoman
- The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
- 11 deleted scenes
- Anamorphic screen test, storyboards, location photos, and behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
- The Shafrazi Lectures, no. 1: Bottle Rocket
- Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by executive producer James L. Brooks, an appreciation by Martin Scorsese, and original artwork by Ian Dingman
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"Bottle Rocket" is a story about two characters, Anthony and Dignan and their feeble life of crime. What makes the film special is the infectious optimism, a sentiment that is neither artificial nor forced as it usually is in independent American films. Neither is the comedy, which just flows quite naturally and never intrudes upon the characters' believability. Anthony (played laconically by Luke Wilson) has just been in a psychiatric hospital for "exhaustion." As his little sister points out, there seems to be little cause for exhaustion in Anthony's unemployed, laid-back lifestyle, but as the film progresses we understand that it is Dignan who is the cause. The development of the character story (which throbs underneath the veneer of heist-buddy-comedy film) comes over beautifully, the pacing is perfect and the end result is one of Wes Anderson's most touching films to date. It does not have a trace of cynicism in it, a rarity in today's world. When Anthony meets a girl and falls in love, his best friend is happy for him instead of being jealous. Although it inevitably gets in the way of their friendship, it does not make any lasting damage upon it. The film's very happy ending feels real and natural.
Criterion has of course given this film a proper sendoff - marvellously packaged with interesting special features, a fine booklet and a neat picture quality. Then again, I expected nothing less of Criterion than to show proper respect for one of the most original and exciting filmmakers in the US today.
But as you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version.
At present this now overlooked gem is only available on BLU RAY in the States. But therein lies a problem for UK buyers...
The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don't confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front - that won't help.
Until such time as "Bottle Rocket" is given a Region B release by someone - check your player has the capacity to play REGION A - before you buy the Criterion issue...
I recently watched it a 2nd time and found 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.
If you can play region 1 DVDs and care about the film, Criterion's extras are definitely a worthwhile investment, most especially (for me) the 13 minute short the feature grew out of.
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