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The Martin Scorsese Film Collection (New York, New York / Raging Bull Special Edition / The Last Waltz / Boxcar Bertha) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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Disc 1: NEW YORK, NEW YORK Disc 2: BOXCAR BERTHA Disc 3: THE LAST WALTZ Disc 4: RAGING BULL SPECIAL EDITION
Two major collections of Martin Scorsese DVDs were released within a year. While the Warner set contains more popular films, this MGM set digs deeper. It combines a new, knockout two-disc edition of Raging Bull, the concert film The Last Waltz, and two Scorsese curios--Boxcar Bertha and, making its DVD debut, New York, New York. Bertha (1972) is Scorsese's first Hollywood film, a low-budget Roger Corman film adding sex to a Bonnie and Clyde formula of train-robbing outlaws starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine. After seeing the film, John Cassavetes told Scorsese what he already knew--"make a movie about something you really care about"--thus providing the spark for Scorsese to make Mean Streets and turn his career around.
After Taxi Driver, Scorsese went musical. The Last Waltz (1978), a record of the Band's 1976 farewell performance is a solid candidate for the best-ever concert film. Using the lessons learned as assistant director/editor on Woodstock, Scorsese storyboarded as much of the live concert as he could and relied on expert cinematographers to handle the tough shoot (big cameras needing constant attention for the live event). Scorsese's earthy interview segments were parodied in This Is Spinal Tap a few years later. New York, New York (1977) was Scorsese's attempt to recreate the musicals of his youth. He added the realistic flair of a modern film, but re-created the vintage look and style, with mixed results. The design and music are lavishly produced, but the story involving Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro doesn't click. This "director's cut" has been around for years on home video. The new commentary by Scorsese is interesting, but there's too much dry by-the-facts talk from film critic Carrie Rickey. The DVD extras are plentiful and far more engaging with the new edition of Raging Bull (1979), a Scorsese masterpiece of design and effect following the tumultuous times of prizefighter Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro in an Oscar-winning performance). --Doug Thomas
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The "Jewel in the Crown" of the set is the aforementioned RAGING BULL (1979), which many consider the single best boxing film ever made--and which many consider Scorsese's single finest film to date. Based on the scandal-plagued career and private life of boxer Jake LaMotta and featuring powerhouse performances by Robert De Niro and Cathy Moriarty, it is indeed a film that is difficult to overpraise--a remarkable balance of passion and violence against the sheer beauty of the film itself. The DVD edition, which includes two disks, is remarkably fine here, featuring a remarkably large number of commentary guests and a host bonuses that are never less than interesting and often remarkably insightful as well.
The remaining titles, however, are somewhat problematic--with Scorsese's first major film BOXCAR BERTHA (1972) easily the weakest link in the set. Starring David Carradine and a frequently nude Barbara Hershey, the film concerns the exploits of a pseudo-Bonnie and Clyde as they pillage and lust across Depression era America; suffice to say that the film was produced by the notorious Roger Corman and is best recalled for Hershey's physical charms. Although it receives a respectable transfer the DVD does not offer bonus material of any kind.
If BOXCAR BERTHA is a near-turkey, NEW YORK NEW YORK (1977, now available on DVD for the first time) might best be described as a near-miss--and the only musical Scorsese has thus far attempted. Presumably suggested by the stormy backstage lives of such "girl singers" as Doris Day, the film paints a broad picture of the rough and tumble post-WWII dance band era through its depiction of ill-fated romance between vocalist Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) and band leader Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro.) Including a dazzling array of musical talent and quite a few memorable musical numbers, the film is often quite fine but ultimately less than the sum of its often brilliant parts. Although slight in comparison to RAGING BULL, the bonus material here is quite interesting, including several alternate and deleted scenes and a very interesting commentary on which Scorsese is joined by critic Carrie Rickey.
The final title is THE LAST WALTZ (1978), a documentary that combines concert footage of 1970s rock group The Band's "last" concert with a healthy dose of backstage material to create what is easily one of the better rock-concert-documentaries available. Trouble is, if you don't like The Band you aren't likely to enjoy the film. As in the case of NEW YORK NEW YORK, the bonuses do not compare to RAGING BULL, but they are quite good in and of themselves, including a few out-takes and an enjoyable commentary by Scorsese and former band member Robbie Robertson.
If you are a Scorsese completist you'll doubtlessly find this a convenient way to pick up these four titles--and certainly the price is right. But it is worth noting that each of these films are available for independent purchase, and while RAGING BULL is a must-have and NEW YORK NEW YORK is more than worth the effort, you may prefer to purchase them individually rather than in tandem with the lame BOXCAR BERTHA and the well-done but niche-interest THE LAST WALTZ. Generally recommended nonetheless.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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.
Now all we need is for Universal to put out a boxed set of the films he did for them! I'd LOVE a "Casino" Special Edition!!!!
Overall this is a very nice box set for a Scorsese fan or Film Enthusiast
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