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Digital Watch

The Coppolas on DVD

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Coppola Empire seemingly never runs out of inspiration. Talent must run in their blood. Not only has father Francis established an extraordinary career of his own, but also his children, nieces and nephews have joined in. Almost every year one of them does something amazing, from Jason Schwartzman's superior turn in Rushmore to Francis' re-edit of Apocalypse Now Redux and Nicolas Cage's double-trouble performance in Adaptation.

Francis' beautiful daughter Sofia might never have broken into films if not for her family clout; she's so shy and fragile looking that one would doubt she could handle the cold, cruel reality of Hollywood. Thankfully, she has. Her delicate touch is something Hollywood has been sorely lacking in a landscape full of testosterone and ego.

Movie fans can rejoice as two of the family's finest achievements reach DVD simultaneously. Strangely, they make a lovely double bill about loneliness and love.

Lost in Translation (2003, Focus Features)
I've already been extensively quoted all over the country, so I'm not sure what else I can say about this small miracle, the only truly great American film of 2003 -- except that its delicate intimacy plays just as well at home as it does on the big screen. Bill Murray's comic performance can be effortlessly compared to Chaplin's in City Lights and writer/director Sofia Coppola's breathtaking, humanist views of Tokyo easily draw comparisons to another master, Ozu. That's not to leave out the lovely performance by Scarlett Johansson, whose deep soulful eyes reveal an intelligent sadness that only enhances her voluptuousness, or the funny supporting turns by Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris that have somehow eluded praise. Complaints that the film is racist are entirely unfounded; I've heard that Japanese viewers are just as enchanted as Americans were.

This essential new DVD contains a great 30-minute making-of film shot (uncredited) by Spike Jonze, with no talking heads or film clips -- all good stuff. It also comes with a 9-minute "discussion" between Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola, a trailer, a music video and Bill Murray's entire, uncut appearance on the Japanese talk show.

(Read Jeffrey's full review.)

One from the Heart (1982, Fantoma / Zoetrope)
In 1998, Premiere Magazine called this film one of the ten greatest "flops" of all time. With its 2003 theatrical re-release and this DVD, it now has a chance to earn its rightful status as a classic, and a precursor to such modern-day hits as Moulin Rouge and Chicago.

It's important to remember that the film isn't about beautiful people falling in love, but about normal people (Frederic Forrest and Teri Garr) trying to hold on to what they have. In a flashy and artificial Las Vegas, they both fall in love with beautiful fantasy figures (Nastassja Kinski and Raul Julia) before they realize what "reality" has to offer.

For this cut, Coppola has slightly re-edited the film and returned it to its original beautiful color scheme. This extraordinary two-disc set boasts a beautiful, restored transfer of the film remastered in 5.1 Dolby and presented in Coppola's preferred 1-to-1.33 format. Coppola provides an entertaining and insightful commentary track. The second disc contains a treasure trove of found gems: the original and the new re-release trailer, a featurette on Tom Waits and the film's music, alternate versions of said music, rehearsal footage, deleted scenes, a featurette on the "new" electronic cinema, and an all-new "making of" documentary.

(Read Jeffrey's full review.)

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