Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jude Law, Norah Jones, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, Chan Marshall/Cat Power, Benjamin Kanes, Frankie Faison, Adriane Lenox, Michael May
Written by: Wong Kar-wai, Lawrence Block
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including violence, drinking and smoking
Running Time: 90
Date: 05/16/2007

My Blueberry Nights (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pie in the Sky

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The ever-intriguing and justly celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love, 2046) makes his English language debut with this tale of missed connections, but entrusts the lead role to pop singer Norah Jones; she's adequate, but not outstanding. Our heroine hits the road and meets many lost souls, a cop (David Strathairn), his ex-wife (Rachel Weisz) and a gambler (Natalie Portman). Jude Law runs a diner in New York and dreamily awaits her return. Wong's beautiful frames, filled with windows, lights and colors and a dazzling array of sounds (from distant thunder to tinkling bracelets) establish his all-important mood, though Hollywood seems to have lifted his usual dark cloud in favor of a tear-stained twinkle. Crime novelist Lawrence Block co-wrote the movie's screenplay (and its playful dialogue). (The U.S. release clocks in at 90 minutes, but an earlier cut ran 111 minutes.)

DVD Details: (June 13, 2008) The Region 3, NTSC DVD comes with no extras other than optional English & Chinese subtitles and an optional DTS audio track. The bonus is that you get to be the first on your block to own this underrated movie on home video!

(June 25, 2008) I just checked out the new USA Region 1 release from the Weinsteins' Miriam Collection. It has more extras, including an onstage interview with Wong (in English), a studio-produced "making of" featurette, a trailer and stills. But the most shocking difference is that the two DVDs appear to have slightly different cuts of the film. The Region 3 release doesn't have any of those "Day 1," "Day 9" title cards in-between scenes, nor does it have filler like shots of the elevated train whizzing by. (It appears that, once again, the Weinsteins have meddled with a work of art.) However, even with these additions, the U.S. release runs about 5 minutes shorter! And both versions are drastically shorter than the 111 minute version that premiered at Cannes. It would have been helpful for one or both of the discs to include deleted scenes to shine some light on this puzzle. I haven't had time to watch both discs closely for further details, but hopefully someday I will...

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