Guillermo Arriaga makes his directorial debut with "THE BURNING PLAIN," finally available on blu-ray from MAGNOLIA. Arriaga weaves together seemingly disconnected story-lines with the same artistry and impact of his earlier scripts for "AMORES PERROS," and "21 GRAMS." But, "THE BURNING PLAIN" also showcases significant directing talent as well! In one storyline, Kim Basinger plays Gina, a neglected mother and housewife, struggling with self-worth due to a mastectomy, finds escape in the arms of a lover(Joacquim de Almeida). The trailer he owns as a getaway and as a setting for their infrequent interludes, bursts into flames as the film begins. As flashbacks unfold, we see Gina's growing detachment from her truckdriver husband and attraction to Nick(Arriaga). When the story moves into what seems to be the present, we explore the aftermath of Gina and Nick's death, with the post-mortem revelations of their adulterous affair and its impact on their surviving family. Gina's daughter, Mariana begins an affair with Nick's son, Santiago. Of course, this infuriates Marianna's father even more, as his hurt, feelings of guilt and more surface. Another storyline follows Sylvia(Charlize Theron), a sexually adventurous beauty and owner of an upscale seaside restaurant, involved with a married chef. It's obvious that all is not well with Sylvia, not just due to the various risks she takes without any semblance of concern for her well-being, but also by her odd, detached behavior. When a Spanish man appears, keeping tabs on her, instead of fearing him, she invites him to have sex with her, which he surprisingly refuses. And, then things begin to get weird! Kidding! But, the stories do manage to remain compelling and their relationships to one another come together in a carefully simplistic manner that may anger as many viewers as it impresses.
MAGNOLIA has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this VC-1 encoded 1080p blu-ray. Colors are remarkable in virtually every scene, complimenting the varying settings to each storyline. Colors vary in their vibrancy, but always in relation to the director's intent. Detail is always impressive, with the rustic desert settings and the Southwest coastal settings showcased in a manner that boasts the full capabilities of blu-ray. Inky blacks make certain that darker scenes never lose their depth.
While much of the film's dialogue and subtitles(in select scenes)are crucial and the focus, it doesn't prevent the surround mix from being one of the most surprisingly effective, immersive experiences on blu-ray thus far. Surround, discrete and panning effects are utilized with great skill and impact, lending to the film's often beautiful, yet somber atmosphere. (A scene in which a child watches a crop-dusting plane pan by her window)is one example as to how the mix blends music and effects with startling beauty.
A variety of extras is included:
"THE MAKING OF THE BURNING PLAIN" offers a standard resolution documentary about the film's production. Well worth viewing.
"THE MUSIC OF THE BURNING PLAIN" explores the collaborative efforts of the film's composers, in standard resolution.
"A LOOK AT THE BURNING PLAIN" is a short 1080i look at clips from the film and comments from the director.
Various trailers for other films from Magnolia, in 1080i, are included.