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Rumble Fish (SE)
DVD disk
10.11.2005 By: Scott Weinberg
Rumble Fish (SE) order
Director:
Francis Ford Coppola

Actors:
Matt Dillon
Mickey Rourke
Diane Lane

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young gang leader tries to emulate the "successes" of his estranged older brother, breaks a gang truce, and ends up in some seriously deep trouble.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A rather strange experiment from a filmmaker who, at the time, could have made absolutely any movie he wanted to, Rumble Fish is (like The Outsiders, Tex, and That Was Then This Is Now) based on a novel by S.E. Hinton and packed to the gills with teens in anguish.

It's an oddball little passion project from Francis Ford Coppola, a sort of homage to the pulpiest sort of juvenile-delinquent flicks from the 1950s & '60s. Lensed in a rich, lustrous, and entirely stylized black & white palette, Rumble Fish packs a fairly conventional story into a package that's quite dazzling to the senses -- and at the same time it's kinda oddly familiar.

Like most of the films based on Ms. Hinton's stories, Rumble Fish is a star-laden affair. Movie fans will get a big kick out of seeing Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage, Diane Lane, Chris Penn, Vincent Spano, and Laurence Fishburne, Diana Scarwid in early roles, and each performer gets their fair share of the spotlight. Plus, it's got Dennis Hopper in one of his favorite roles: a drunken and abusive father. Tack on the rather excellent musical score by Stewart Copeland, an unpredictably askew approach to the material, and a truck-load of lovely B & W cinematography, and you're looking at an offbeat experiment that, while certainly not a brilliant movie, flies far more than it fails.

THE EXTRAS
The main (extra) feature is the feature-length audio commentary with director Francis Ford Coppola. Only a few short minutes of this track is all you'll need before you realize that Franky loves this strange little movie. As per usual, Mr. Coppola delivers a chat-track that's laid-back and loose, but also filled with interesting movie minutae.

On Location in Tulsa: The Making of Rumble Fish runs 12 minutes and features cast & crew interview segments (both brand-new and old on-set clips). Those looking for some insights into this, well, "untraditional" film (which Mr. Coppola refers to as an "art flick for teenagers") should find some of their questions answered here.

Also clocking in at around 12 minutes is a featurette entitled Rumble Fish: The Percussion-Based Score, which focuses on Mr. Copeland's (very first) film score and some contributions from the composer, his director, and a sound designer Richard Beggs. (Trivia note: Stewart Copeland won a Golden Globe for this score!)

You'll also get approximately 19 minutes of deleted scenes, a music video for "Don't Box Me In," and the original Rumble Fish theatrical trailer.

Frankly it's a pretty packed platter, considering that Rumble Fish didn't exactly burn down the box office back in 1982 ... but we are talking about Francis Ford Coppola, after all.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Up until a few days ago, Rumble Fish remained as the only Coppola film that I'd never seen, and I'm not too surprised to discover that I quite enjoyed Frankie's little "juvie" experiment. If it reminds you of several other street gang stories, I suppose that's because it's supposed to -- but the master filmmaker brings his own unique sensibilities to the movie, and the result is a flick that's admittedly rather broad (and more than a little ... weird), but pretty darn entertaining nonetheless.
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