The Austin Chronicle

Home Entertainment for the Holidays

Best bets for DVD and Blu-ray

By Marjorie Baumgarten, December 14, 2012, Screens

Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection

Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $39.99 (Blu-ray)

Included in this new Coppola collection are the films Apocalypse Now (1979), Apocalypse Now Redux (2000), One From the Heart (1982), Tetro (2009), and The Conversation (1974). Coppola, one of the certifiable masters of modern cinema, provides an audio commentary track for each film, along with numerous other bonus features that render these works objects for study as well as viewing enjoyment.

It's a curious selection of titles, however – especially given the fact that all the films in this package except for One From the Heart have been released previously (and recently) in high-definition Blu-ray formats. What, you may wonder, links these five films? The answer is simple. These are the titles for which Coppola owns the controlling rights. If you want to see The Godfather films, turn to Paramount or risk finding a horse's head between your sheets. The same holds for Coppola's other films, although I imagine the various studios will send skilled copyright attorneys your way rather than severed animal parts.

Still, for 40 bucks this Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection is a great buy – especially if you don't already own any of these titles. It's debatable whether Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux are two separate movies or just the original movie with extras added for something resembling a director's cut. Tetro is one of Coppola's more recent efforts in which the director strives to makes a smaller-scale drama, although his innately operatic tendencies ultimately overtake the enterprise. Still, the commentary and extras offer insight into Coppola's goals and strategies. The Conversation ranks as one of the best movies of Coppola's career, and its story about a lonely wiretapper whose latest job grows increasingly convoluted well deserves to be seen in this digital upgrade. Many insightful extras are also included with this title.

The gem of the collection, however, has to be this first-time Blu-ray release of One From the Heart, the Las Vegas-set musical romance made almost entirely on the soundstages of Coppola's newly acquired Zoetrope Studios. The film's production design is breathtaking and the music is by the great Tom Waits. Yet, after all the stories about the troubled production of Apocalypse Now followed by the increasingly out-of-control costs of One From the Heart, critics and naysayers were gunning for Coppola in the early Eighties. When One From the Heart was finally released, Coppola pulled the film from all the theatres after one week in order to protect his investment. The abundant extras recount most of this torturous history and provide fantastic glimpses behind the gates of Zoetrope Studios, along with Coppola's visionary video-editing system. As is typical of the man and his films, the surfeit of riches among these extras is staggering.

Other auteurs Tarantino XX (Lionsgate Miramax, $119.99 Blu-ray), Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Universal Studios, $299.98, Blu-ray)

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