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The Score

The Score on DVD

It could be the clever screenplay, it could be the excellent direction; it could be any number of things. But I think it's safe to say that what makes this film so great is the fact that it stars three of the greatest actors from three generations.

When you manage to get De Niro, Norton and Brando together for a film, it really doesn't matter what the other factors are -- the performances alone can make it worth watching. Fortunately, The Score has all the other factors in place as well.

Nick (De Niro) enjoys his life as a jazz club owner, but his life on the side is a little bit more dangerous. He doesn't want to do it anymore, but needs a way to make money. Eventually, Jack (Norton) and Max (Brando) manage to convice him to go for one last score. Nick can make enough off this one to be able to pay off the club and live life the way he wants.

From there, it goes on as a typical heist movie. We get introduced to a whole bunch of funky gadgets, watch the trio prepare for the score, etc. Of course at some point, Nick decides not to do it, but is convinced (again) by the words of his long-time friend and partner, Max. The last 40 minutes is one of the most intense, brilliantly created pieces of movie-making I've ever seen.

But here's a thought: if these crooks had saved all the money they used to buy all this equipment, they wouldn't need to steal in the first place. The same goes for every movie like this.

De Niro is, as always, phenomenal, and Brando is much less wooden than most of his roles in the last ten years. He actually shows himself off as a great actor again. However, the real star of the show is Norton, who plays two characters. Jack's alter ego is Brian, a sweet, innocent, mentally retarded young man. He's got everyone at work wrapped around his finger, and that's how he's able to pull off the heist. And as good as he is as Brian, he's even better as Jack.

I'm sure Frank Oz would not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of a heist movie, but he proves here he's got what it takes to play in the big leagues. The direction is absolutely perfect, especially during the final act. The screenplay also blends the right amount of humour, suspense, and wit.

Really, there's nothing bad I can say about this movie. At 124 minutes, it's just the right length (though I personally didn't want it to end). It doesn't overstay its welcome, and it's not so short that it leaves you unsatisfied.

With a clever script, excellent direction, and brilliant acting by three generations of greats, you just can't go wrong with The Score.

It's my pick for best movie of the year, and it's ten times better than anything we saw last year.

Paramount did a very good job on the DVD. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen is clear and sharp, and looks pretty much flawless. The sound (5.1 Dolby Digital) is just as good. There are a lot of good scenes that use the home theatre system well, and they don't disappoint.

When it comes to extras, Paramount is getting better. I wish they'd give all movies the same treatment that Forrest Gump and Tomb Raider got, but beggars can't be choosers, right? With The Score, there is a commentary by director Frank Oz and director of photography Rob Hahn. Oz is very personable, offering some good anecdotes about the shoot, and provides a very entertaining commentary. There is also the lame "making-of" that is nothing more than a 12-minute commercial. You don't learn a thing about the making of the movie, but it does feature some interviews with the cast and crew. There is also some additional footage, which isn't really additional. The three scenes include some improvisation between De Niro and Brando while shooting a scene, a few alternate lines during the coffee shop scene, and a slightly longer version of the song by Mose Allison.

The movie is great, and the disc is pretty good. Highly recommended

The Score, from Paramount Home Video
124 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton,, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando
Produced by Gary Foster and Lee Rich
Written by Kario Salem and Lem Dobbs and Scott Marshall Smith, Directed by Frank Oz.


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Updated May 13, 2006