SRP $29.99 1.85:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 BUENA VISTA

The critically acclaimed, pet project of Salma Hayek, “FRIDA”, has received a dvd special edition presentation from BUENA VISTA.

The Mexican painter is as well known for her unusual lifestyle, as she is for her surrealist paintings.  All of this is explored within the film.  Alfred Molina, a terrific actor, never quite given his due, is wonderful here as her long-time lover, artist Diego Rivera. “FRIDA” succeeds where most “autobiographical” films fail. Helping achieve this feat, is the fact that her life was full of compelling and dramatic turns!  As a young girl, she was severely injured in an accident that would leave her bed-ridden for a great length of time. Thanks to a wonderful father, her artistic abilities were nurtured, and Frida was enabled to paint from her, creating canvases that allowed the viewer and herself to escape the confines of the everyday world.

Director Julie Taymor continues her abilities in creating unforgettable compositions, making “FRIDA” burst with color and life, in a way few recent films have managed to do.  It’s a beautiful looking film.  Surprisingly, Ms. Hayek’s not bad either!  While her decision to play Frida “with” her well-known unibrow, doesn’t quite reach the sacrifice made by DeNiro’s weight gain for his portrayal of LaMotta, her performance is passionate and impressive.
The supporting actors, Antonio Banderas, Roger Reese and more are great. Even Ashley Judd isn’t at her typical worst, chewing all of the scenery, but perhaps that’s because the scenery is so beautiful, that it easily dominates her.

BUENA VISTA has preserved the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. The colors are rich and vibrant in almost every scene. While a few moments appear soft, the overall quality is outstanding!  There are no artifacts, and contrast is flawless.  A very sharp transfer! Fleshtones appear natural throughout.

BUENA VISTA has presented a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which while enjoyable isn’t very aggressive.  There are some directional effects, but they’re limited to the front soundstage.  The Oscar-winning score is well complimented here, accentuating key moments of the film, and with great clarity. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.

BUENA VISTA has provided several terrific extras for this release.  Salma Hayek provides a great deal of background information in “A CONVERSATION WITH SALMA HAYEK.” Running over 30 minutes, almost every detail of the film’s development is explored in a candid manner.
Director Julie Taymor provides a commentary every bit as good as the one she did previously for her film, “TITUS.”  She is never dull, and offers a great deal of wit and insight, making this one of the better commentaries we’ve heard in years!

Another commentary, with Composer Elliot Goldenthal, offers a chance for fans of the score to better understand why and how he achieved what he achieved here.

Two separate interviews with Julie Taymor, are offered on the 2nd disc.  A half-hour segment with the American Film Institute is quite good, but the shorter interview, with Bill Moyers is even better, with some great questions asked and answered.

The visual design of the film is also explored with great detail in several featurettes.
There are even more supplements, mostly promotional, but even without them, this is a terrific addition for any film lover’s dvd collection.