PEARL HARBOR (VISTA SERIES)
Buena Vista Home Ent., $39.99
At one point during a shot breakdown, director Michael Bay and a visual effects dweeb can't decide which of the sailors clinging to the listing hull of the Arizona are actors and which are computer-generated—a brief exchange that sums up Pearl Harbor's flaws. Massive war epic? OK, massive DVD; in fact, how about a half-day's worth (!) of multiple commentary tracks, countless production analyses, and a veritable shitload of other special features?
This July 2 release is all about prestige and extravagance; it's the video equivalent of heated seats in your Navigator. A handsome, distressed-fake-leather dossier houses four discs along with recruitment poster-style cards (dig that khaki strap), an aged White House communiqu鬠and even a Robert Capa-esque war photo. But the real goodies here are AV, including three commentary tracks where Bay, Ben Affleck, and others delve into the spectacle. "Deconstructing Destruction" negotiates the blurry terrain where traditional filmmaking and CG animation converge. A dozen shots are analyzed in short "production diaries" underscoring how Pearl is more about logistics and resource management than arty-farty concerns with story or performance.
Also commendable (and edifying) are a pair of hour-long History Channel docs and an interactive time line tracing Japan's political and cultural conflicts with the West. And a Faith Hill video! More than you need, more than you'll ever watch, and certainly more than this turd of a movie deserves, the Pearl package is nonetheless loads o' value-added fun. As Alec Baldwin's Jimmy Doolittle declares, "Bullshit, but very, very good bullshit."
Not so good are a slew of other July 2 releases including Teenage Caveman, Shallow Hall, and the director's cut of the 1972 musical 1776 (all bad for very different reasons). New to disc are the 1996 foreign-language Oscar winner, Kolya; 1989's The Old Gringo (with Gregory Peck); and the 1977 Americana documentary True Life Video Stories by Scott Jacobs, which can be seen as a kind of precursor to Errol Morris' work. Another interesting grassroots effort is the IndieClub compilation DVD of 22 shorts (see www.IndieClub.com). The Royal Tenenbaums arrives July 9 and will be reviewed here next week.