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Bullets Over Broadway

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
One of Woody Allen's best films, "Bullets Over Broadway" centers around a playwright named David(one of my favorite actors, John Cusack) looking through the streets of New York City to find funding for his new play after his last two were ruined by poor direction. David has always written plays that are meant for "art", not to be "commercial", and no one seems to want to produce his current play until he runs into a bodyguard(Chazz Palminteri) looking for a play with a part for his shrill, annoying fellow gangster's girlfriend Olive,(well played by Jennifer Tilly). After a hilarious first meeting where the playwright is terrified by the untalented "actress", he still agrees to include her in the play.

As the movie goes on, pieces of the play begin to come together. A grand old actress, Helen Sinclair, agrees to take the lead role in David's play and for a while, everything looks like it's coming together well; there are many wonderfully entertaining scenes where the actors sit around a table rehearsing and the camerawork of Carlos Disilva captures the spirit of the scene well. But soon, things start to slowly get out of hand. Corrections need to be made, people are unhappy with their roles.

Cheech(Palminteri) doesn't really care for the play. He's just there to look out for Olive. But one day, while sitting in the theater watching the actors going about their business, he begins to speak up, correcting the flaws of the dialogue. The characters look at each other, amazed at what has just been offered. Shockingly, his suggestions are right. From then on, Cheech begins to work on the play with David, adding his own touches to the production.

There are so many wonderful performances here; Cusack, Palminteri, Tracey Ullman and even Jennifer Tilly. Allen's story is a hilarious interpretation of the way that Hollywood functions. It's pure Woody Allen; smart, witty and always very funny.

VIDEO QUALITY: Not as pleasing as I would liked to have seen this film presented. It's definitely not unwatchable by any means, but I was dissapointed with the video quality of this disc. Occasionally it's not too bad; during some of the lighter scenes the picture looks fairly good. It's during some of the darker, night scenes that the picture looks far too soft; the picture certainly is clear, but I would have liked to see it quite a bit sharper and more detailed.

The DVD does capture the excellent colors and tones of Carlo DiPalma's cinematography well, but again, I have to say I still wish it was sharper. There are some artifacts included as well; shimmering isn't noticeable throughout the film, but there were instances where it does make an appearance and when it does, the amount becomes annoying. This isn't the best print used for this disc, either. There are quite a few minor cuts and scratches here and there. Nothing highly annoying, but sometimes I found them noticeable.

Overall, I felt the same way about this disc as I did with Disney's recent disc release of Father Of The Bride the image is certainly watchable, but occasionally, artifacts make themselves known and the effect is rather annoying. Contrast and color saturation on this disc are rather nicely rendered, but not the best that they could be presented. Flesh tones are generally natural looking.

SOUND: "Bullets Over Broadway" is about as basic a sound mix as possible, made up of dialogue and old tunes that Woody Allen himself has chosen. The dialogue is sounds natural for the most part, but rather flat sounding every so often. The music sounds clear, but not very full or strong, probably due to how old the music is and the fact that the recordings were made so long ago. There are no problems with the soundtrack; it's certainly clear, but there just really isn't much to it.

MENUS: Very basic, but generally nice looking menus with pictures from the cover art. Generally nice, but nothing special with animation or anything like that.

EXTRAS:Not even the trailer. Nothing.

Final Thoughts:Like the recent DVD releases of Four Rooms and Beautiful Girls by Disney, "Bullets Over Broadway" doesn't even include the trailer, so the disc gets a "Zero" in the grade for extras. And like Disney did with "Beautiful Girls", this disc does not have the trailer, but it does have a space where Disney advertises "other titles". No trailers for other titles, just very basic and uninteresting advertisements. Apparently, space for advertising is more important for Disney than including the trailer on these current releases of older films and that's really unfortunate. "Bullets Over Broadway" is a fantastic film and one of Woody Allen's very best pictures. I certainly give the film an A, but the presentation and lack of extras takes the final grade all the way down to a 67%. If you enjoy Woody Allen's films and I certainly am a fan of his, then I certainly recommend "Bullets Over Broadway"; the only problem is that you simply don't get anything extra for your $29.99. It's a great film, but I didn't care for the quality of the way it was presented on this DVD. I wish Woody Allen made films for Warner Brothers so we could get a special edition of this film on DVD. Disney, on the other hand, doesn't even give us a trailer for $29.99. With the new way that I grade the overall quality of a DVD, the extras section is worth 300 points out of the overall grade of 2200. If the disc has one or two trailers, I can at least give the disc as much as a 75%(225 points). But if there's absolutely nothing, then I can't give any grade in that section and with a zero in the extras grade, a disc can't get an overall average grade any better than 81%. If Disney continues not putting even a trailer(and puts ads for other movies instead) on future releases of their older titles, then their discs will all get zeros in the extras section, which is never good for the overall grade and definitely not good for the consumer, who is paying a lot of their money for DVDs and not even getting a trailer on this particular one.

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