MCN Columnists
Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt

Vantage Point

A marvelously frantic suspense movie about a presidential assassination attempt, Vantage Point,has been issued by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has several famous stars in smallish roles, but the hero is a recovering Secret Service agent, played by Dennis Quaid, who may have been called back to duty too soon after defending the president from a previous attempt.William Hurt is the president, and Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox, and Sigourney Weaver are also featured in the 2007 production. The 90-minute movie’s primary gimmick is that the actual story occurs during a relatively brief period of time-about a half hour, total-but the film replays the incident from different character viewpoints. There are six of these segments. The first five run about 10 minutes each and then the final one, which has multiple viewpoints, runs about 30 minutes. The filmmakers do cheat the chronology a little, and when you stop to think about the coincidences and the central premise, the movie may seem a little silly. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take more than the first few minutes to get totally wrapped up in the intrigue and excitement as the story barrels ahead, rolls back, and then barrels ahead again, while your disbelief stands panting in the street, unable to catch up.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The color transfer is sharp. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound accentuates the action effectively and has plenty of power. There is an alternate French track in standard stereo and alternate Spanish, Portuguese and Thai tracks in 5.1 Dolby, along with optional English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles. There is a decent 27-minute production documentary, an even better 16-minute piece that goes over how the script was developed, a fine 7-minute piece about the stunts and a minute-long blooper gag.

After the production featurettes, director Pete Travis doesn’t really have much to add in his commentary track. He never goes into too much detail, but talks in general terms about how various scenes were staged and how things were altered in the editing room.

As the sound enhances the film’s excitement, so does the Blu-ray release deliver even more thrills than the DVD. Rear channel directional effects, clearer details and deeper, better rounded power add considerably to a viewer’s involvement in the action scenes and the story as a whole. There are four alternate language tracks and eight subtitling tracks including English. The special features that appear on the DVD are all included, and there is an additional feature that is fun, but really more promising for what it represents than what it delivers. Since most of the movie is set in a relatively confined location (it takes place in Spain, although a lot of it was shot in Mexico City), the BD allows you to bring up a schematic at the bottom of the screen that tracks each major character’s location and alternate viewpoints. It isn’t always present-which also leads to the suspicion that the filmmakers are cheating here and there-but it reinforces the movie’s basic concept in an entertaining manner.

August 21, 2008

– by Douglas Pratt

Douglas Pratt’s DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter is published monthly.
For a free sample, call (516)594-9304 or go to his website at

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

The Ultimate DVD Geek

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon