Eager to draft off — and further feed — last minute Oscar buzz, Warner, Fox and Universal are releasing a trio of nominees on disc in the two weeks leading up to the kudocast. Although varying widely in style, each period pic boasts knockout performances and welcome extras about their real-life inspirations. Repeat viewings remind just how good these perfs are.
Easily the glossiest of the trio, Fox’s “Walk the Line” collector’s edition comes with commentary, deleted scenes and a bonus disc testifying to the power of Johnny Cash’s music and his love for June Carter. A behind the scenes taken from a primetime special boasts impressive music star power, but occasionally goes over the top in admiration for the Man in Black, as when pal Kris Kristofferson compares him to Lincoln.
In his commentary, director James Mangold explains how the very different acting styles of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon (his is messier, hers focused) push each actor into a different type of performance than you might normally see them give. The helmer’s frank about his struggles to get the film made from the outset, and pleads with listeners interested in movies with real people, as opposed to comicbooks, to go see them in theaters or buy the DVDs so Hollywood realizes there is an appetite for grownup fare.
Helmer Joe Wright is also frank — sometimes brutally so — about his experiences on the “Pride & Prejudice” commentary, but the object of his critique tends to be a boring shot here or bad outdoor light there. Wright freely compliments Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, describing one horrific spat between her feisty Elizabeth Bennet and his brooding Mr. Darcy as a train wreck.
“They just fancy each other,” he says approvingly when the sparring couple almost kisses.
U’s disc also contains several informative featurettes on Jane Austen, plus a compliment-heavy look behind the scenes of this adaptation.
“North Country” comes with deleted scenes and a making-of featurette with comments by the women miners who filed the class action suit that formed the basis of the story. It’s powerful stuff, especially when you hear Lois Jenson (the woman who inspired Charlize Theron’s character) say her sexual harassment suit lasted from 1984 to 1998.
“In Hollywood, sometimes it’s all about whether a picture makes a $100 million, and for me, it’s about whether a movie makes a difference,” says exec producer Doug Claybourne. “Authenticity is what this movie’s all about.”
Indeed, one of the miners says she and her colleagues instinctively hugged Theron after she broke down during filming of an especially emotional scene.
Like “Walk the Line,” the disc also contains deleted scenes, but in this case without additional explanation or context, which would have made them more meaningful.