Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 18th, 2003
Terminal loser William H. Macy hatches a scheme to get out of his debt problems: hire SteveBuscemi and Peter Stormare to kidnap his wife, then get the ransom from his father-in-law.Naturally enough, everything goes spectacularly wrong. Bodies pile up, and hugely pregnantSheriff Frances McDormand investigates. All the elements of prime Coen work are present:wonderful character turns from a top cast, dialogue to die for, cinematography that will take yourbreath away, and a sc…re whose majesty can move you to tears.
The film is driven by its dialogue, and that is what is given pride of place on this 5.1 mix. Nodistortion at all on these voices. The music builds nicely into full surround as well. This is a veryfront-dominated soundtrack, though. There are very few surround sound effects. And yet, forsome strange reason, there is a lot more by way of environmental effect coming out of the rearspeakers when the commentary is turned on, thus hinting at what could have been a much richermix.
Roger Deakins’ awe-inspiring camerawork is, for the most part, well served by this transfer.The colours are gloriously rich. The picture is sharp, the blacks are profound, the contrastsexcellent, and there is no edge enhancement. Some of the daylight scenes in the snow,unfortunately, are very grainy. This is very noticeable in the scene where McDormand examinesthe bodies. Both widescreen and fullscreen formats are provided, but it would be a crime tobutcher these visuals by watching the fullscreen version.
This Special Edition release has been beefed up with a considerable batch of extras. As ever,the Coens do not provide a commentary. Instead, DP Roger Deakins does the honours, so theidiscussion naturally emphasises the technical side of the film. “Minnesota Nice” is a fascinating28-minute documentary, incorporating both new interviews and promotional elements from thetime of the release. The Charlie Rose segment with the Coens and McDormand talking up thefilm is included, and we get to see the Coens pull the wool over Rose’s eyes by maintaining thatyes, their fictional story is based on a true case. The trivia track is the most non-stop version I’veyet seen, bombarding you with facts about everything under the sun (etymology of “true”anyone?). And there’s more: a photo gallery, the theatrical trailer, the TV spot, an article fromAmerican Cinematographer, liner notes, and an ad for the Blue Velvet specialedition DVD. There is also an Easter Egg: select the paperweight visible on the special featurespage, and you wind up with an alternate menu based around that paperweight. Either menu hasan animated and scored main page, intro and transitions.
A magnificent film, now given proper treatment on DVD, at least as far as the extras areconcerned. Picture and sound are good, but could still be improved.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Minnesota Nice” Documentary
- Charlie Rose Segment
- Trivia Track
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- American Cinematographer Article
- Alternate Menu
- Liner Notes