Christmas Comes But Once a Year (A Recurring Series)

on December 12, 2008 by Steve Simels
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Okay, the Feds are about to bail out the auto industry, but none of that money's coming to you or me. And yet we still have to buy gifts for those near and dear to us this holiday season. So allow me, once again, a recommendation -- if you've got a little disposable income (specifically, $31.96) and some film nerds on your Christmas list, you would do well to get them the splendid new Criterion Collection double-disc version of geek chic auteur Wes Anderson's 1996 debut breakthrough Bottle Rocket.

But first -- STEVE'S MOVIE REVIEWSTM!!!

 

Frost/Nixon -- A voodoo priest (Samuel L. Jackson) resurrects the great American poet Robert Frost (Danny DeVito) and sends him to father a zombie child with Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon (herself). Fitfully scary low budget horror, but the soundtrack by Gogol Bordello totally rocks.

 

But I digress.

In any case, Bottle Rocket is of course the story of some likeable losers (brothers Owen and Luke Wilson, also making their film debuts) who stage a wildly complex and only moderately successful heist of a small bookstore and their subsequent on the lam misadventures. It's all very dry and 90s "ironic," but it's aged well, I think, and despite having kicked off a craze for shrunken corduroy suits as the de rigeur uniform for indie filmmaker wannabes, it repays behooving again; Jon Stewart recently allowed how it's one of his favorite films ever, and that judgement seems sound. Fortunately, the whole thing looks and sounds great on Criterion's new director-approved transfer.

Never seen the flick? Here's the original trailer to give you a taste.

That trailer, incidentally, is just about the only thing Criterion neglected to include on disc two of the new package. Bonuses that are there include a terrific making-of documentary featuring interviews with all the principals (including hilarious co-star James Caan), the original b&w short version of the film Anderson shot as a demo, plus a bunch of deleted scenes, storyboards, and location photos. A nice accompanying booklet features an amusing essay by Martin Scorsese and a rather dryer one by producer James L. Brooks. Oh, and disc one features a running audio commentary by Anderson and Owen Wilson.

Bottom line: A wonderful film and a terrific package; you can -- and I think should -- order it here.

 

Tags: Wes Anderson, Bottle Rocket, Frost/Nixon, Sex and the City, Danny DeVito, Jon Stewart, James Caan, Martin Scorsese, James L. Brooks
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