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Vanilla Sky
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Vanilla Sky order
Director:
Cameron Crowe

Actors:
Tom Cruise
Penelope Cruz
Kurt Russell

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
David Aames (Cruise) is your average guy who has everything. Handsome and rich beyond belief, the magazine tycoon traipses around life until he finds a woman who steals his heart (Cruz). Thinking he's finally found true happiness, he runs across a jealous lover (Cameron Diaz) who in a split-second, turns his life completely upside down.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Truly it is. Following the recent trend of films that are designed not only to entertain but also to thoroughly fuck with your head, this film comes through on many levels. Not only does it star charming leading man Tom Cruise, but it's a visual pleasure and its plot, although confusing at times, manages to keep you interested and more importantly, keep you wondering. Many agree that you'll either love this or hate it, but I was able to find a happy medium that kept me entertained for a few hours, kept me thinking for a few hours more and finally let me go back to the dreariness of my actual cubicle-ridden existence happier for having spent time watching a film that challenged me rather than spoon-fed me some drivel.

The film does have its handicaps though and chief among them is yet another annoying performance by the personality-challenged Penélope Cruz. I remember watching one of those entertainment shows a few years back, they were all heralding the triumphant arrival of this newcomer from Spain who was poised to take over the entertainment world. Yuck. Little did we know that the Spaniards would unleash upon us the plague of bad acting combined with ugliness! This chick is just plain whack! Not to mention that she has the screen presence of a hockey puck! The rest of the cast was very pleasing, especially Cruise who manages to act throughout an entire film without using one of his usual four facial expressions. Jason Lee and Kurt Russell close up the guard in a solid way and Cameron Diaz is her usual edgy self (watch for that scene where she's kissing Tom's face, that girl's mouth is so huge-- I though she was gonna eat the poor guy's head!), and is quite fitting as the psycho girlfriend.

Overall though, a very satisfying and stylish film. The music is also very cool, featuring a variety of artists including Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M. and many more. It looks like I may make a trip to the music store in the near future. Nancy Wilson did a fantastic job of putting all of it together and also contributes some of her own music to the track. In addition, watch for the cool shots of New York City at the opening of the film...dazzling!

Note: I saw this DVD one day after seeing THE OTHERS and got to thinking: If Tom Cruise can leave a classy, beautiful gal like Nicole Kidman for a squirrel, then our world may truly have evolved to a point where we should leave our present stage and go live among the trees...
THE EXTRAS
The first nugget is a commentary track by director Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson (music). During the track, Crowe discusses every aspect of the film at length and almost literally does not leave a quiet second. Wilson is pretty much just there and once in a while you hear her laugh or something but Crowe is the enchilada on this track. The film is a bit long for that type of long-winded commentary but Crowe proves to be a decent storyteller and he gives you a few clues about the movie throughout. If you were fascinated by the mystery of the film, you'll have some fun times listening in.

On the main menu, you will also find two short featurettes. The first one is entitled "Prelude to a Dream" and is a 6-minute long intro to the film and its general topic. Narrated by Crowe, the document is a bit pompous but pays some tribute to "Abre Los Ojos", the Spanish film by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others), the Spanish film that inspired Crowe to tell this story. The second documentary is a 10-minute long look at the Vanilla Sky Press Tour. "Hitting it Hard" shows you cast & crew running around in exotic countries, attending premieres and hitting the talk show circuit. Not really relevant to the viewer, I think we all see enough of them when we turn on the TV.

A Music Section also appears and features a 3-minute long interview with the pretentious Paul McCartney. It's actually just an "Entertainment Tonight" interview segment, hosted by the ridiculous Bob Goen (Tesh, anyone?) so don't expect any depth whatsoever. The only thing you'll walk away with is an urge to stuff a piece of raw steak to Paul's throat! Also there is a music video of a tune called "afrika shox", by Leftfield and Afrika Bambaataa. It's a pretty slick techno song, intercut with scenes from the film.

Following that is a set of eight photo galleries, available with a brief intro by still photographer Neal Preston. By that time, I had had enough of the Spanish frog though. Two trailers are also available, an unreleased teaser as well as the international trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All in all, this film makes it into The Shootin' Surgeon's famed category of "kick-ass films". Definitely different and absolutely entertaining, the film overcomes a few hurdles in order to keep you by the nuts for a couple of hours. The relatively low amount of bonus material as well as doubtful re-watch value also earn it a rating of "strong rent".
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