While director Peter Bogdanovich's documentary about legendary rocker Tom Petty is almost four hours long, it doesn't seem long enough. Because Petty's career is so varied and incredible, many subjects need to be explored. Bogdanovich touches upon aspects of Petty's career like his struggles with record companies, the arson that claimed his home and his stint with the Traveling Wilburys. Yet it almost feels like he glosses over the history rather than examining it. For a definitive film about Petty and his bands, I guess you'd probably need about 10 hours.
Still, the interviews with Petty and the band are great, and the concert footage is exceptional. If anything, the movie helps establish the fact that Petty is an important force in modern American music.
Special Features: A four-disc set featuring the film, an entire concert and a disc of unreleased and rare tracks.
The other Grindhouse flick gets its release after Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof came to DVD last month. Robert Rodriguez concocted this zombie flick as a stand-alone feature a few years ago, and it became the first film in the theatrical double-feature. It's presented here on its own, and it's a lot of fun for those who like their zombie films.
Rose McGowan plays a go-go dancer who hates her job. The small town in which she lives is besieged by zombies after humans breathe in some creepy green gas escaping from suspicious containers. Much carnage ensues, including McGowan's character getting her leg replaced by a machine gun, which she can somehow fire without pulling a trigger.
The movie follows the tradition of genre flicks like The Evil Dead and features a great Bruce Willis cameo. As the Grindhouse movies go, Death Proof is slightly superior, but that's not because Planet Terror isn't a lot of fun. It's a silly, bloody romp where the performers are clearly having a blast.
While the fake trailer Machete is seen here, the fake trailers that played in between the flicks during its theatrical run are absent.
Special Features: The special features are better than those offered for Death Proof, if only because Rodriguez provides a commentary, while Tarantino did not. Rodriguez reveals that he filmed two versions involving the character his son plays in the movie: one in which he lived, and the theatrical version in which he died. His son still doesn't know he died in the movie. Rodriguez, during his Ten Minute Film School, informs us that there will, indeed, be a double-feature release of Grindhouse sometime in the future.
Jeremy Piven has two Emmys for this series, and he deserves them. He is especially magnificent in this second half of Season Three as Ari, the foul-mouthed, fast-talking agent to Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). There's one episode here in which he must fire one of two twin brothers working at his agency, and it is priceless. It turns out one of the brothers slept with the other brother's wife. Ari is disgusted for many reasons, but the biggest one would be that the wife chose to sleep with a husband duplicate rather than trading up.
While Kevin Connolly gets top billing as Vincent's manager, the series really belongs to Piven and Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama. Dillon plays the perfect boorish asshole, a low-grade actor who rides his more-famous brother's coattails. Dillon, on a weekly basis, is in peak form as the character who is cocky on the outside, yet tragically insecure and immature on the inside.
Special Features: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the season finale, an "in depth" conversation with the cast, and commentaries from cast and producers, including Dillon and Connolly.
So what if Keanu Reeves was terrible in this picture? Gary Oldman rocks as Dracula, and as it stands right now, this is the last time Francis Ford Coppola made a great movie.
Coppola did all of his special effects in camera, a practice that would become obsolete with the arrival of CGI. Oldman delivers a tour-de-farce performance as Dracula, spending much of the film under tons of makeup and many disguises. If you thought that bat creature was some stunt double, think again: That's Oldman in there.
The film is excessive in spots and, yes, Reeves is awful, but the flaws don't stop it from being an artistic masterpiece. Coppola is back at work again with two films in the pipeline. Let's hope the auteur can return to form.
Special Features: Some great deleted scenes, a Coppola commentary and decent making-of documentaries make this two-disc package a worthy pickup.