Best DVDs of 2000
by Gil Jawetz
Top 12 DVDs of 2000 (I couldn't pick just 10)
|Best DVDs of 2000 - Gil Jawetz
1) Fight Club - The most complex and
layered American film in years stretches the notion of
theme and character during a journey into the very
core of identity. To dismiss it as simply being clever
("How's that working out for you?") is to completely
miss the point. Fight Club is a rare brave film
that dares to prove itself wrong, and it does it over
and over until it gets it right. The DVD, however,
gets it right the first time. The only release
available is this posh 2-disc set that, while not
quite as academic as it could be, looks at the film
from more angles than most filmgoers are used to.
2) X-Files Season 2 - Season 1 introduced us to
Mulder and Scully, two of the best television
characters ever, but season 2 is where we really
started to care about them. Besides, mention some of
the episode titles to real fans - "The Host", "Duane
Barry", "Ascension", "Anasazi" - and watch their eyes
glaze over with joy. You could just put the amazing
freak show-themed "Humbug" on a DVD by itself and I'd
3) The Bridge on the River Kwai - A masterpiece
of a film (in the top ten of both the AFI and the BFI
top 100s), Bridge deserved a big DVD release.
The 2-disc set is perfect. Documentaries, both new and
old, add unique insight into the creation of this epic
and newly remastered sound and picture remind us why
David Lean is still referenced as the grandest of
directors and why Alec Guinness, who passed away last
year, was one of the very best actors.
4) North by Northwest - A flawless transfer and
a plethora of extras help open up one of Hitchcock's
most playful masterpieces for a whole new generation.
Although it may not reach for the emotional complexity
of Vertigo or Rear Window, North by
Northwest doesn't skimp out on plot twists as Cary
Grant tries to figure out why his well-ordered life
has just flipped upside-down.
5) The Conversation - A spare and simple film
that showed Francis Ford Coppola as capable at
minimalism as he was at grandeur (incredibly, The
Godfather Part II came out the same year), The
Conversation is absolutely astonishing in how it
draws such a detailed portrait in so few strokes. A
wonderful new transfer and commentary from Coppola and
editor / sound designer Walter Murch (who is becoming
a major player in DVD with his restoration of Touch
of Evil and his upcoming Apocalypse Now!
recut) just add to a disc that suggests that The
Conversation may indeed have been Coppola's best
6) The Last Temptation of Christ (Criterion
Collection) - An emotional and controversial film if
there ever was one, Last Temptation presents
Jesus' journey as one taken by a real flesh and blood
human, not an idealistic saint. Therefore he is prone
to anger and confusion. Director Martin Scorsese also
came under fire for depicting a deep bond of love
between Jesus and Judas, something that deepens the
film and the story immeasurably. It's hard not to feel
the Judas' agony when Jesus asks him to turn him in to
the Romans. That so many Christians have a problem
with this scenario points out their latent
anti-Semitism and homophobia. What the film depicts is
a powerful and honest relationship borne of intense
7) Blue Collar - A rare and obscure film on
video, Blue Collar is significant for its
unusually strong cast (Richard Pryor, Yaphet Kotto,
Harvey Keitel) and for its dark dark subject matter.
Paul Schrader's directorial debut stands up after all
these years for it's brutal honesty and for the truths
about the corporate ownership of America that seem
more prevalent today than ever.
8) The Harder They Come (Criterion Collection)
- A raw and loose film with the best soundtrack ever,
Harder has never looked as good as it does
here and, even though the transfer is not anamorphic,
the colors pop and the images are crisp. The
commentary, by director Perry Hanzell and star Jimmy
Cliff, gives social and political insight into a
turbulent nation during a complex time.
9) Three Kings - Two commentary tracks and
several documentaries help illuminate this complex,
opinionated film but the real treat here is "An
Intimate Look into the Acting Process with Ice Cube",
where Spike Jonze subverts the filmmaking process
better in three minutes than he did in all of Being
John Malkovich. Give us Being Ice Cube!
10) Little Odessa - Almost forgotten among the
rush of mid-90's gangster movies, Little
Odessa's wide vistas were cropped horribly on
video and laserdisc. The DVD restores director James
Gray's incredible cinematography and provides Gray,
along with star Tim Roth, an opportunity to discuss
the emotionally grueling film on a commentary track.
Plus, Gray's watercolor storyboards, narrated by the
director, are unusually illustrative and provide real
insight into his subtle, textured visual style.
11) Gimme Shelter (Criterion Collection) - The
Rolling Stones' disastrous free concert at Altamont
has been called everything from the end of the 60's to
the end of the world and this film about it has a real
apocalyptic flavor. Although the commentary from the
filmmakers oversimplifies the social implications of
the concert, a large package of extras - including
radio broadcasts and a fat booklet of essays - helps
flesh out the darkest point of an era.
12) Chicken Run - While Wallace and Gromit may
be Nick Park's lasting contribution to humanity,
Chicken Run provided a fantastic 90 minutes of
entertainment. The chickens are so incredibly
life-like that it's very easy to forget the
painstaking process of frame-by-frame animation that
these masters undertook to make them that way. The
generous behind the scenes footage on this disc serves
as a source of as much wonder as the film itself.
Worst DVD of 2000
Timothy Leary's Last Trip - Why the hell would
anyone want to watch this amateurish piece of
nonsense? Barely one hour long, this "film" gives no
insight whatsoever and makes Leary and his cronies out
to be even more lazy and stupid than they really were.
Touch of Evil - With nearly all the extras
removed, the original cut of the film not included,
and the price tag left high, this previously-planned
special edition was a major missed opportunity. If
Universal had played their cards right I'd be calling
this the year's very best.