and Her Majesty Mrs. Brown on DVD
New Line home video's
"Platinum Seriess" release of "Pleasantville" is a
pleasant social commentary/comedy with enough DVD extras on it to make
life pleasant for movie students and videophiles alike.
The story of a pair
of teenagers who get zapped into a 1950's sitcom, "Pleasantville"
shows us writer/producer/director Garr Ross's version of the effect of
change on a static society. That's because Pleasantville, the town, is
locked in a 1990's vision of 1950's nostalgic perfection - until David
(Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese WItherspoon) arrive and prove to be
the apple that gets the townfolk expelled from their particular Eden.
As things change,
they slowly go from a black and white world to one laced with - and eventually
taken over by - good old 1950's Technicolor.
There are no villians
in Pleasantville; in fact, you can care about practically everyone in
the movie. The story's conflict comes between the innovators who embrace
change with open arms and those who love ther idyllic life in Pleasantville
and want to hang onto it.
The parallels between
Pleasantville and real life are obvious and not particularly subtle (there
are even signs in stores telling "Coloreds" to stay away), but
that's a small downside to what's actually a warmhearted tale of people
finding themselves in a variety of ways.
As a DVD, this widescreen
"Platinum Edition" is outstanding. Video and PC extras abound
- and the picture and sound quality are what you'd expect from the digital
A pleasant inclusion
is a "video test" section that lets you adjust your TV to best
reproduce the colors of the movie. We recommend using it - and then leaving
your TV adjusted that way when you're done. The test sequence is really
entry level compared with real test discs like "the Video Essentials,"
but every little bit helps.
extras include audio commentary by auteur Gary Ross, an isolated audio
track of the score, with commentary by composer Randy Newman (there's
also some great old music in the soundtrack), and a behind-the-scenese
featurette ("The Art of Pleasantville").
And that isn't all.
There's also Fiona Apple's music video of "Across the Universe,"
her cover version of the old Beatles song that accompanies the closing
credits, a storyboard gallery and the original theatrical trailer.
Then there's the PC
section, which (unfortunately) includes that damn PC Friendly software
(why can't it just use your regular Browser). The upside is that you get
the screenplay (well, most of it), complete with storyboard illustrations,
and you can access it scene by scene - and you can play scenes from the
screenplay or print the screenplay out (great for film students).
There are also Web
links that give you access to cast/crew information and trivia.
There aren't much
in the way of liner notes, but considering everything else you get this
isn't much of an oversight. You do get some illustrations of some artwork
from the movie (stuff supposedly painted by Jeff Daniels' Character),
along with a chapter list and PC instructions.
In all, it's a wonderful
DVD, not just a pleasant one.
Edition, from New Line Home Video
124 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
starring Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William
H. Macy, J.T. Walsh
Written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross
Majesty Mrs. Brown
Majesty Mrs. Brown is a pretty intriguing movie, though as a DVD it isn't
much more than a movie.
Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Scotsman comic Billy Connolly in
a dramatic role, it recounts the friendship between Her Majesty and John
Brown, an unswervingly loyal servant with a mind of his own. The Queen
has been mourning the death of her beloved husband for an inordinantly
Brown comes on the scene, however, his irascible personality and devotion
to his Queen causes her to begin living again - at least to a certain
extent. The resulting close friendship between the two rubs the Establishment
(including the Prince of Wales) the wrong way, however, and some of them
begin plotting a way to get the Queen to resume her public duties while
getting the interloping Scotsman out of the way.
are some lovely Scottish highland locations in this film, as well as powerful
performances by the well-cast cast. Comedian Connolly holds his own very
well among such powerful presences as Dench (whom younger viewers may
know best as the new "M" in Pierce Brosnan's James Bond movies).
a DVD, Her Majesty Mrs. Brown is nothing special. The widescreen picture
and sound quality are acceptable but, despite the labelling of "Dolby
Surround" on the packaging, the movie is in two channel stereo. The
lack of center channel information means voices could come from a wide
band across the front of your listening room, depending upon where you're
if that's the way the movie was made that's the way it was made. It's
too bad that the audio wasn't mixed with such considerations in mind,
are virtually non-existent, too. You get the theatrical trailer and chapter
stops - and a brief blurb on the jacket's rear panel - and that's it.
while Her Majesty Mrs. Brown is an enjoyable film - especially for the
PBS/BBC set - it leaves something to be desired as a DVD.
Her Majesty Mrs. Brown,
from Miramax Home Video
105 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), stereo
starring Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Antony Sher, Geoffrey Palmer, Richard
Pasco, David Westhead
Written by Jeremy Brock, Produced by Sarah Curtis
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