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Quentin T. on DVD: Movie Fan Bliss

by Scott Weinberg

With the release of Quentin Tarantino's insane new "Kill Bill" I found myself picking through my DVD collection...and I discovered that I owned FIVE QT titles! Fairly odd considering that the guy's only directed four features so far. With that cryptic statement, I introduce you to the EFC/HBS Guide to Quentin Tarantino on (Region 1) DVD.

I really dug "Volume 1" of Kill Bill, though I sincerely do wish it had been released in its original full-length form. I began wondering what form(s) Kill Bill would take on DVD form when the filmmaker himself announced his tentative plans to do separate releases for the individual volumes and then a big, swanky edition with both features combined.

That's the one I'll be buying.

So as Kill Bill excitement started to grow (the guy hasn't written or directed a film in six years, don't forget), I found myself digging through my DVD collection to get reacquainted with the likeably insane and wholly talented lunatic.

I'll break it down in the films' original chronological order.

Reservoir Dogs (Artisan)

Theatrical Release Date: Oct. 23rd, 1992

Original DVD Release: Nov. 20th, 2001

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox or Full Frame, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, production notes, theatrical trailers, cast/crew bios

Not an atrocious DVD, though it lacks an anamorphic transfer and the paltry extras don't offer much at all.

REAL DVD Release: Aug. 27th, 2002

Widescreen anamorphic format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 or DTS audio, full-length audio commentary comprised of extensive cast/crew interviews, several behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a cool guide to Film Noir history, audio commentary segments with three different film critics, photo galleries, theatrical trailers, more cast & crew interviews, and a handful of fascinating other goodies

This is an amazing DVD. Period. Not only can you choose between five different covers (based upon which character you like best), but there's a yacht-load of extra features that will only serve to raise your appreciation of QT's debut. There was a bit of minor controversy when this DVD was released, as purists found a brightness/coloration problem with the transfer. This may be a legitimate complaint...but I didn't notice anything misshapen.

True Romance (Warner Bros.)

Theatrical Release Date: Sept. 10th, 1993

Original DVD Release: Sept. 30th, 1997

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox or Full Frame, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, theatrical trailers

Can't much comment on this DVD, as I've never spun it. Non-anamorphic and no 5.1? I was holding out for something better...and boy oh boy was the Special Edition worth the wait.

REAL DVD Release: Sept. 24th, 2002

Widescreen anamorphic format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS audio, THREE separate full-length audio commentaries (1. Christian Slater & Patricia Arquette, 2. Screenwriter QT, 3. Director Tony Scott), a branching behind-the-scenes featurette, 35 minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes (accessible with optional commentaries), storyboard analyses, theatrical trailers and TV spots, stills galleries, the original EPK featurette from '93, and a handful of random toys

Though the flick was directed by Tony (Top Gun) Scott (and pretty damn well, if it's me yer askin'), True Romance is Quentin through and through. Watch this film and you can feel the one-time filmgeek scrawling the wish-fulfillment script during nights off from the video store. Boasting one of the coolest casts ever conceived and laden with laughs, love and action aplenty...True Romance is pure pop-culture art and a movie that I simply love.

Both DVDs feature the "unrated director's cut" (which means more graphic violence and a surprise move from the leading lady during the film's frantic gunfight finale) which means you the theatrical version is unavailable on DVD. But the extra gore makes the flick even more fun. And Warner's 2-disc Special Edition is a crown jewel among any collection. 2 out of the 3 audio commentaries are fantastic; I'll let you decide which is the soft yakker. And even a borderline fan of True Romance will find much to enjoy in Disc 2's treasure trove. Even better than Artisan's Reservoir Dogs...and that's saying something.

Natural Born Killers (Warner Bros.)

Theatrical Release Date: Aug. 26th, 1994

Original DVD Release Date: Jan. 25th, 2000

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, full-length audio commentary with director Oliver Stone, six very cool deleted scenes, a 20-some minute documentary entitled "Chaos Rising", theatrical trailers, cast/crew bios

Sure, QT only gets "story" credit on this flick, but if you've seen this one a few times you can clearly feel the Quentin vibe. The first DVD is called the "Director's Cut" (it includes three minutes more than the theatrical cut) and it's the one with the more psychedelic cover. The extra footage is a nice inclusion (as is the Chaos featurette), but the non-anamorphic transfer does leave a little to be desired. theatrical trailer. That's a stupid exclusion.

REAL DVD Release: Jan. 16th, 2001

Widescreen anamorphic format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1, all of the same goodies from the previous (Trimark) release and a few extras: a 10-minute interview between Charlie Rose and Oliver Stone AND the original theatrical trailer. Yay!

So here we have a dilemma. The first DVD is the director's cut (with the extra three minutes) while the second contains the original theatrical cut. But the second disc has a beautiful anamorphic transfer and a few extra goodies. Personally I prefer the second DVD. (It's the one with a bald Woody Harrelson within a black frame.) Whichever one you choose, you're getting one of the ballsiest movies to come out of Hollywood in the past twenty years. Social commentary has never been so nastily entertaining.

Pulp Fiction (Miramax)

Theatrical Release Date: Oct. 14th, 1994

Original DVD Release: May 19th, 1998

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, not one single extra feature to speak of; not even the stinkin' theatrical trailer

I bought this one, knowing full well that Miramax would someday soon deliver a mega-swanky 2-disc Special Edition. Not a great DVD. Forget it.

REAL DVD Release: Aug. 20th, 2002

Widescreen anamorphic format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS audio, full-length text trivia track, about two hours worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews, five deleted scenes with Quentin intros, an excerpt in which Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gush over the flick for about fifteen minutes, some footage from the film's reception at the Cannes Film Festival and more from the Independent Spirit Awards, several text-based reviews and articles on PF, stills galleries, theatrical trailers, TV spots, swanky booklet, DVD-ROM toys, and one of the slickest fold-out cases you'll ever see

How this flick lost Best Picture to Forrest Gump is a tragedy of astronomical proportions. Given ten hours and 3,000 paragraphs I couldn't sum up my admiration for this movie - and by extension this brilliant DVD package. The fan in me (oh, couldn't you tell?) yearns for a commentary track or two, but based on what IS on this 2-disc set...just wow.

Four Rooms (Miramax)

Theatrical Release Date: Dec. 25th, 1995

DVD Release Date: March 23rd, 1999

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, theatrical trailer

At the risk of sounding like a one-sided fanboy (which I am not) I'd still contend that QT's section (the fourth tale) is easily the only time worth spending with this flick. Tim Roth gives it his all, but the movie's a freakin' mess. The meager DVD is about what the movie deserves. Moving on...

From Dusk Till Dawn (Dimension)

Theatrical Release Date: Jan. 19th, 1996

Original DVD Release Date: Oct. 3rd, 2000

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) Letterbox, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, theatrical trailer

A fairly decent transfer, but nothing to flip out over. No features. Helluva fun flick; drab DVD.

REAL DVD Release: July 31st, 2001

Widescreen (non-anamorphic) format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1, full-length audio commentary with director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, a FULL-LENGTH behind-the-scene documentary entitled "Full Tilt Boogie", deleted scenes, a quite funny reel of outtakes, an EPK called "Hollywood Goes to Hell", a featurette on the film's art design, stills galleries, theatrical trailers, TV spots, music videos, cast/crew bios

A flick I like more and more each time I watch it, and this DVD from Dimension's "Collector's Series" is an absolute gem. One bizarre omission is that of an anamorphic format, but (much like in the original DVD version) the flick looks crisp and colorful and doesn't seem to suffer from the lack of the 16x9 treatment. The extras are as giddily enjoyable as they are plentiful. "Full Tilt Boogie" borders of fanboy overkill (in a good way) while the commentary between Tarantino and Rodriguez is addictively entertaining.

Jackie Brown (Miramax)

Theatrical Release Date: Dec. 25th, 1997

DVD Release Date: Aug. 20th, 2002

Widescreen anamorphic format and NO pointless Full Frame option, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio, a full-length text trivia track, QT's intro to the film, a 45-minute featurette entitled "How It Went Down", another hour-long chat with QT called "A Look Back", about a half-hour worth of deleted scenes, another bit of praise from Siskel and Ebert's TV show, an MTV tie-in feature, theatrical trailers, TV spots, radio spots, and the full clip of "Chicks Who Like Guns" from the feature film

The one QT DVD that I still don't own (an issue I intend to remedy soon), it's also one that never got an "earlier, crappier" DVD incarnation. Which means the only one available is the good one. Laden with the same sorts of extras found on Pulp Fiction, this one's a feather in Miramax's cap - and a very handsome delivery of Quentin's only underrated flick.

So I told you all that so I could tell you this: if you dig on the vibe that QT's been slinging since the early 90s...and you have a DVD need to do yourself a few favors and snag these platters. Just make sure you get the right ones.

Lastly, you can let Harvey Weinstein know how you feel about his choppage of Kill Bill by avoiding the inevitable "Volume 1" DVD. If you had a royal hoot with Kill Bill (as I did), save your nickels until about this time next year. I'd bet you three-fifths of my DVD collection that we'll be seeing Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2: The Complete 3-Disc Special Edition Collector's Edition Director's Cut. And that's the one you'll want.

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originally posted: 10/12/03 22:10:09
last updated: 09/23/05 14:49:29
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