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Martin Scorsese is one of the world's greatest filmmakers living today. At first, this may seem like so much over-inflated hype, and to be sure, he would be the first to avoid this title, but think, for a moment, about a handful of the films this man has done: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and GoodFellas. All of these films have received numerous awards, they are studied extensively in film classes all over the world, and have been well-received critically, while also gradually developing a loyal following of admirers consisting of not only of discerning cineastes but other filmmakers who are inspired by both the content of his films and the style in which they are presented. Scorsese has made several films that are generally regarded as landmark works that continue to entertain and inspire future generations.
Included with each DVD is a theatrical trailer for its corresponding movie.
New York, New York features a fine collection of extras, including an audio commentary by Scorsese and film critic Carrie Rickey, who proceeds to put the movie into context and gives a brief run-down of the down-beat musical sub-genre. Scorsese is a great talker with an encyclopedic knowledge of film, making this a must-listen for fans.
Scorsese introduces the movie and describes it as a love affair between two creative people. He wanted to recreate the artifice of old Hollywood movies but with realistically behaving characters a la the films of John Cassavetes.
Also included are 15 alternate takes/deleted scenes totaling 19 minutes that involved a lot of improvising between the actors.
There is a "Photo Gallery" that contains a decent collection on the set pictures, French lobby cards, posters, storyboards and stills of the cast and crew.
There are two audio commentaries for The Last Waltz. The first one features Scorsese and Robbie Robertson. The veteran musician's comments are screen-specific as he offers fantastic observations about the music and the musicians in a conversational tone that is very engaging as if you are sitting in his living room watching it with him over drinks. The second track features a number of participants: journalist/screenwriter Jay Cocks, music critic Greil Marcus, the film's executive producer Jonathan Taplin and others. Taplin talks about how he got Scorsese and Robertson together while the former was making New York, New York, while Marcus examines the songs and their significance on this informative track.
"Archival Outtakes: Jam 2" is 12 minute informal jam session that occurred towards the end of the concert with members of The Band, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Neil Young and others. It's great to see these legends rockin' out together.
"Revisiting The Last Waltz" is an excellent 22 minute retrospective featurette that includes new interviews with Scorsese and Robertson. It shows how meticulously Scorsese storyboarded and planned out the entire concert. One really gets an appreciation of how much work went into this film.
There is also a photo gallery with concert, studio and New York City premiere pictures as well as posters.
Raging Bull has the most impressive selection of extras. First up are three audio commentaries. The first one is with Scorsese and his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker (taken from the Criterion laser disc). Their comments are often screen-specific as they talk about how certain scenes were put together in this engaging, informative track. The second commentary features cast and crew, including producer Irwin Winkler, cinematographer Michael Chapman and others. Chapman dominates the track, talking about the effects of lighting and camera movements in given scenes. Finally, the last track features screenwriters Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader and the Raging Bull himself, Jake La Motta. The aging boxer recounts childhood memories and how he learned to fight, providing fascinating insight into the mentality of a boxer.
There are four featurettes, made specifically for this DVD, that cover various aspects of the movie and include new interviews with all the major cast and crew members, including Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarity, Joe Pesci, Paul Schrader and Frank Vincent. They vary in length but are all quite substantial and provide incredible insight into how this important film was made.
"The Bronx Bull" features various contemporary British film critics who talk about why Raging Bull is such a great movie and how it was savaged by reviewers in its day.
"De Niro vs. La Motta" is a shot for shot comparison of Scorsese's film with actual pictures and footage of La Motta. It's amazing to see how well De Niro resembled the real person and how closely Scorsese recreated some of his fights.
"La Motta Defends Title" is vintage newsreel footage of one of La Motta's actual fights.