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Wes Anderson first illustrated his lovingly detailed, slightly surreal cinematic vision in this witty and warm portrait of three young middle-class misfits. Fresh out of a mental hospital, gentle Anthony (Luke Wilson) finds himself once again embroiled in the machinations of his best friend, elaborate schemer Dignan (Owen Wilson). With the aid of getaway driver Bob (Robert Musgrave), they develop a needlessly complex, mildly successful plan to rob a small bookstore—then go “on the lam.” Also featuring Lumi Cavazos as Inez, the housekeeper Anthony falls in love with, and James Caan as local thief extraordinaire Mr. Henry, Bottle Rocket is a charming, hilarious, affectionate look at the folly of dreamers. Shot against radiant southwestern backdrops, it’s the film that put Anderson and the Wilson brothers on the map.
For more about Bottle Rocket and the Bottle Rocket Blu-ray release, see the Bottle Rocket Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 9, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Lumi Cavazos, James Caan, Andrew Wilson
Director: Wes Anderson
» See full cast & crew
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray Review
Wes Anderson - Finally on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 9, 2008
As one of the most unique and gifted directors currently working, Wes Anderson has carved out a very special artistic niche for his quirky and often strangely emotional films. Mr. Anderson has developed an exceedingly artistic visual style that pays homage to Stanley Kubrick, Jean Renoir, François Truffaut as well as French still photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, while still maintaining a unique edge and personality all to its own. It may come as a surprise to some readers that Mr. Anderson is not the product of Hollywood royalty, rather, he's a self taught film aficionado from the suburbs of Houston. Mr. Anderson's films have all met with a large amount of critical praise and he is one of the few genuine auteurs working today. A Wes Anderson film can always be counted on to be visually beautiful, impeccably written, perfectly scored and filled to the brim with outstanding performances. His first film, Bottle Rocket, is no exception. Born from his collaboration with fellow University of Texas student, Owen Wilson, the duo wrote and produced a short film version of their idea and successfully pitched the film to Columbia pictures. The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks to the Criterion Collection, the film is now available on Blu-ray in a spectacular high definition package that, for the first time, allows viewers an early glimpse at movie-making genius.
Anthony Adams (Luke Wilson) is your average twenty-something misanthrope. He's bored, fed up with the expectations of his family and generally burned out on life. As Bottle Rocket begins, Anthony returns to his hometown, with his sneaky best friend Dignan (Owen Wilson), after a prolonged stay in a mental institution. Dignan has decided that the answer to the pair's boredom is to embark on a 75-year plan for successful lives as master criminals and thieves. Their worrywart friend Bob Mapplethorpe (Robert Musgrave) happily joins the duo as they conceive their first heist: robbing a bookstore. Dignan is clearly not the best judge of a ripe target for robbery as the bookstore proves to be unsurprisingly devoid of cash for them to steal. Convinced they the law is after them after the bungled heist, the three head out to the middle of nowhere to hide in a border motel. It's there that Anthony falls for a sweet young maid named Inez (Lumi Cavazos) while the bond between the three friends begins to deteriorate. As the trio heads their separate ways, Dignan is convinced that the influence of master thief Mr. Henry (James Caan) will bring the team back together. But there is more to Mr. Henry than meets the eye.
Bottle Rocket is a sweet, funny and touching film. While much of the action is played as broad comedy, themes of young love, friendship, alienation and confusion about life run as a surprisingly rich undercurrent to the film. The film is brilliantly written in such a sly way, that the movie can play out in different ways with each subsequent viewing. Initially, Bottle Rocket might come across as slightly silly, but with time, the film's more emotional core starts to come through. This seems to be a pattern in Wes Anderson's movies as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited all have a similar quality of evolving over multiple viewings. Credit should be given to both Mr. Anderson as well as Owen Wilson (co-writers on Rushmore, Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket) for crafting an easy- going story with such dramatic replay value.
Bottle Rocket is also noteworthy for introducing both Owen and Luke Wilson to audiences. The brothers were complete unknowns at the time the movie was made and the film catapulted them both to A-List superstar status. The supporting cast is also wonderfully eclectic as Wilson and Anderson cast many friends and family members in the film. Surprisingly, these novice actors all pull together and put in outstanding performances. Lastly, James Caan, in the mere handful of scenes he occupies, is stellar as the mysterious Mr. Henry. He seems to play the role as some sort of Sonny Corleone / Steve McQueen hybrid and manages to supply some of the films most simultaneously dramatic and hilarious moments.
Bottle Rocket is a truly beautiful film that has never really received much popular attention. This Criterion Collection edition is a wonderful way to discover a remarkable film that is too often overlooked. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray, Video Quality
As one would expect from the folks at Criterion, Bottle Rocket arrives on Blu-ray looking better than ever. Framed precisely in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded with AVC Mpeg-4, Bottle Rocket exhibits all the qualities of projected film. Grain is present and delivered in levels appropriate for a twelve year old low-budget film. It's never distracting and adds to the movie's remarkable cinematography from Robert Yeoman. The film also displays rich, vibrant colors and many instances of stark primary hues used to highlight the moods of the characters. It's a stunning presentation that could only be possible with Blu-ray's exceptional visual fidelity.
Distracting artifacts are also never an issue with Bottle Rocket. I didn't detect a hint of edge enhancement, haloes, ringing or any of the normal culprits that detract from the viewing experience. Black levels are robust and the film displays an exceptional level of contrast throughout. Image detail is also outstanding with well-defined skin and fabric elements. The image also displays a great sense of dimensionality and depth of focus. It's worth noting, that as with every Criterion Collection release, the film's creators were involved in the transfer process. Both Cinematographer Robert Yeoman and Director Wes Anderson supervised the newly minted Blu-ray transfer. Therefore, it's doubtful that Bottle Rocket will ever look better.
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Bottle Rocket also benefits on Blu-ray from the inclusion of a fantastic 5.1 DTS HD- Master Audio soundtrack. Criterion has clearly demonstrated their renowned commitment to quality by utilizing the best of the best technologies in their initial Blu-ray releases. Hopefully film fans will rejoice at these technologies being used on lower budget films that have never had such careful white glove treatment on home video before. As such, Bottle Rocket is primarily dialogue driven with a nice surround mix of Mark Mothersbaugh's eclectic score and Mr. Anderson's favorite British Invasion tracks. There's not a whole lot of surround activity to speak of, but the aforementioned dialogue and music is presented in a flawless manner. I've stressed on many occasions the importance of utilizing lossless audio on every release, regardless of action scenes. Bottle Rocket once again proves this to be true with crisp dialogue and rich, enveloping music. Bottle Rocket sounds fantastic.
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
· Commentary by director/co-writer Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson
· The Making of "Bottle Rocket": an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, James L. Brooks, James Caan, Temple Nash Jr., Kumar Pallana, Polly Platt, Mark Mothersbaugh, Robert Musgrave, Richard Sakai, David and Sandy Wasco, Andrew and Luke and Owen Wilson, and Robert Yeoman
· The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
· Eleven deleted scenes
· Anamorphic screen test, storyboards, location photos, and behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
· Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
· The Shafrazi Lectures, no. 1: Bottle Rocket
· Booklet featuring an essay by executive producer James L. Brooks, an appreciation by Martin Scorsese, and original artwork by Ian Dingman
Wow. Criterion has really done a fantastic job with the supplements selected for Bottle Rocket. Just about every aspect of the film's production is well covered in the set and the inclusion of the "Making Of" featurette adds a tremendous amount of background to the film's development. The Wes Anderson / Owen Wilson commentary is informative, funny and entirely entertaining. It's a definite must for fans of the film. The real prize in this set is the original black and white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992. It's intriguing to see the story's transition from idea to the big screen. Wes Anderson's unique visual style is evident even in this early film, proving his expertise is more than accidental. The remaining features veer into the area of written critical acclaim with prominent filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese praising the film and an odd "Shafrazi Lecture" delivered on the film's themes. There are also a number of interesting deleted scenes included which offer a glimpse at the editing process and story development for the film. Bottle Rocket fans are bound to be thrilled with this exemplary set of additional features. Criterion continues to impress!
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bottle Rocket is an exceptional debut film from a startling talent. Wes Anderson has become one of the most acclaimed directors of his generation and it is a thrill to experience his debut film with the quality and attention to detail that Blu-ray and Criterion provide. The film looks marvelous and film-like on Blu-ray with rich colors that showcase the film's outstanding cinematography from Robert Yeoman. Audio is also well presented in a fantastic DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 mix that delivers crystal clear dialogue and robust musical cues. Supplements are also well thought out with the original 1992 black and white version of Bottle Rocket as a definitive highlight. I hope that this Criterion release is the motivation for many people to experience Bottle Rocket for the first time. It's a remarkable and rewarding film that is sure to become a classic. This Wes Anderson fan is thrilled to finally see a Wes Anderson film in glorious Blu-ray high definition. Highly Recommended!
Bottle Rocket Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 16th - December 16, 2008
Since the days of Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection has dedicated their efforts to collecting the greatest classic and contemporary films from around the world, and make them available to the general public at the highest quality possible. Today, they release ...
• Criterion Titles Get Delayed - November 17, 2008
Criterion Collection has announced that they have delayed their first wave of Blu-ray releases by about a month. 'Bottle Rocket', 'Chungking Express', 'The Third Man', and 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' have all been delayed until December 16th, while 'The Last Emperor' ...
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