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Digital 5.0, 2.0
with director Mike Newell
Donnie Brasco - Out of the Shadows and an Original Featurette
for all principle actors
& TV Spots
Donnie Brasco, The Devils Own, The Professional, and The Juror
Scenes & Clips
Notes and Moving Photo Gallery
Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo
and Anne Heche
on the book by Joseph D. Pistone with Richard Woodley screenplay
by Paul Attanasio
Johnson, Barry Levinson, Louis DiGiamo and Gail Mutrux
Godfather, Goodfellas, and now Donnie Brasco. While hundred
of gangster films have been made, few have measured up to the
standards of The Godfather. Mike Newell, however, has made a
tense, moving picture that comes close. Donnie Brasco is the
story of FBI Agent Joseph D. Pistone (Johnny Depp). He went
undercover for what was supposed to be a few months and wound
up in the Mafia for over six years. He befriended and was sponsored
by an aging low-level made man, Lefty (Al Pacino). Upon learning
who the director was, Mike Newell, there is a bit of skepticism.
This British director is largely known to American audiences
for directing Four Weddings and A Funeral. Happily, he has done
an incredible job. It also helps that he assembled a truly incredible
cast. Johnny Depp shows just how far he has come from his days
on 21 Jump Street. If you have ever written him off as a pretty
boy actor, this film will convince you otherwise. Al Pacino
is amazing in any role you place him in. In this movie though,
he seems to have become Lefty. While Donnie Brasco is a compelling
gangster movie, it does not follow many of the gangster movie
traditions. There is very little violence in this movie, and
what is used adds to the mood and feel of the film. This movie
is not about the top leaders. No one is living a posh lifestyle
driving huge cars or living in glorious mansions. Lefty and
his associates are on the bottom rung of the made-men. You also
feel sorry for the bad guy, Lefty. He is, after all, a hired
killer who brags about his 26 hits. But at the same time you
empathize with him. Here is a man in his forties who works hard,
follows all the rules, never questions his orders, and has absolutely
nothing to show for it. While we may have different jobs, the
question of where did I go wrong is universal.
transfer is not perfect. There are a few blips on the screen,
but they do not detract from the viewing of the film. The colors
all come through remarkably well. Since it is in the 1970s there
are some wild clothing and colors. The only drawback is the
coat that Lefty wears is an odd checkered pattern that gets
the weird swirled color patterns. The sound is presented in
two formats. There is the Dolby Digital 5.0 mix and the 2.0.
Since the movie is dialogue-driven, there is not a huge difference
between the two. The 5.0 makes better use of the voices by centering
them and then having background noises come from the surrounds.
The musical score by Patrick Doyle, who also did Henry V, is
sparse, but extremely effective. The rest of the movie music
features songs from 1970s.
are not many extras on the disc, but they are of outstanding
quality. The best is Donnie Brasco - Out of the Shadows. This
features interviews with the writer, director and Joe Pistone.
It is always interesting to here what the subject of a movie
thinks about how things turned out. Turns out that Pistone was
as impressed with Depp as I was. There are also five deleted
scenes available with or without commentary. Newell does a great
job explaining why the scene was shot in the first place, and
then why it was removed. The Original Featurette runs for seven
and a half minutes and is the standard extended trailer we see
on most DVDs that boast of an "Original featurette." The DVD
has an interesting treatment of the photo gallery. There are
pictures from both the movie and behind the scenes, but instead
of flipping through them, they are woven together with the score
and pieces of the dialogue from the movie. There is a filmography
for the major actors. It lists their birth date, the films they
have appeared in, and any awards or nominations they have received.
Finally there are trailers for Donnie Brasco, The Devils Own,
The Professional, and The Juror.
Newell delivers an outstanding commentary along with an outstanding
movie. His comments last through the entire film, and are screen-specific.
He tells wonderful stories about the cast members, and what
it was like to work with them. He also goes into some detail
about the steps he went through to make the movie authentic.
He hung out with some wise guys in New York. While he does add
some of what happened in real life, it would have been nice
to have more information on what really happened and what had
to be changed.
is a great movie. The actors have turned in some of their best
performances; the director does a wonderful job. If you thought
you wouldn't like the movie because it would be chock-full of
violence, it's not. The film is tastefully done, and you truly
care about the characters, even the bad ones. If you love gangster
films then this DVD is a must to add to your collection.