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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 27:49)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer - including Rush Hour
  • Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Interviews

Wag The Dog

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 97 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It is purely coincidental when you consider that not many weeks after Wag the Dog was released in the US that it was revealed President Clinton was having 'sexual relations' with a young White House intern. As to what the White House did/would-do to cover up such an event can only be speculated but one possibility is that which is presented in Wag the Dog.

It's 1998 and the hottest story on the news at the moment is an unearthed sex-scandal occuring within the White House walls. It is up to the White House advisor Ronnie Bream (Robert De Niro) to try to cover it up or divert the publics attention away from this issue and focus it on another.

He enlists the help of Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) who takes it all in his stride to produce an exceptional diversion which sees a war breaking out in Albania with the focus on a young girls attempt to escape the bombing of her town, a families gratitude towards the Presidents efforts and a captured war hero who sends his mother a touching morse code message.

It's frightening to think that with the talent available in Hollywood that such an event could occur, if it doesn't already. The cleverness in this movie is how director Barry Levinson allows our creative team to find a solution for any situation that befalls them.

  Video
Contract

I raved about the video quality in the Shawshank Redemption, I'm going to rave even more about Wag the Dog. This is it folks, Village Roadshows finest looking disc to date, if not the best region 4 disc I've seen. That's a bold statement I know and I had to prove it to myself using many different devices and it came up trumps on all counts. It looked especially gorgeous on the new Sony VPL-10HT LCD projector I played with.

Roadshow have managed to find that balance between extreme image sharpness and minimal aliasing/shimmering. Sure there is some aliasing at times but the balance achieved is way above any previous attempts. I commented about this balance in Shawshank and it's evident here.

Black level and shadow detail are superb. If you've got your viewing hardware calibrated correctly, you'll see an abundance of detail even in the darkest scenes. Many dimly lit scenes have the background pitch black bringing out a very dynamic contrast in the image that you could only wish for on some other ordinary transfers of more enjoyable movies.

DVDs resolution allows for alot of detailed information to be displayed and some of the imagery here will bring new life to your TV. The white hairs in De Niros beard and Hoffmans hair, the definition in the branches of the background trees, the crisp clean look of the whitehouse (if only Independence Day would present such a pristine image when it comes to DVD), the neon lights captured on a dark New York night; all provide demo video material.

No MPEG artifacts, no bleeding and excellent color saturation with DEEP blues in the early bluescreening sound stage all marred by a slightly odd placed layer change some 27 minutes into the picture during a high motion pan. It will not please those who despise layer changes yet somehow they'll accept it over a flipper of a disc. :)

  Audio
Contract

Two great video transfers from Roadshow yet the movies the involved aren't going to cause any concern for your neighbours or room-mates.

Being a heavily dialogue based movie, there is no real avenue for the sound engineer to truly excel at his work other than to provide consistently clear and audible dialogue and those subtle, ambient surround effects.

  Extras
Contract

There is a bevy of extra on this disc arranged in the not-so-usual Roadshow style.

  • Animated Menu - This is a very interesting way of using the menu facility. It's simple, effective and follows the media tone of the film.
  • Audio Commentary - This is clearly not a scene by scene commentary even though Barry does talk about specific scenes. It seems more like a compilation of his ideas more than anything else. But it is informative.
  • Trailers - The Dolby Digital Canyon trailer greats us at the opening of the movie with accessable trailers for Wag The Dog (full frame, excellent quality) and Rush Hour (1.85:1 ratio, very bad quality).
  • One the Set - A look at the b-roll footage of some scenes.
  • Cast & Crew Biographies/Interviews. - Now I like this idea of combining the bio and interview on the same character screen. Select a cast/crew member and you are presented with a screen to view the interview or their bio. The bio is not your static pages of text but scrolling much like a teleprompter. If it's too fast for you, press pause and catch up. :)
  • Production Notes - in the same style as the biographies, scrolling text, we are presented with notes about the movies origins and so forth.
  • From Washington to Hollywood - A long look at how the media could theoretically influenced by Hollywood. Interviews with the director, producer and others in the know talk about how Wag the Dog seemed far fetched back then but is now coming to reality.
  • Macey about Mamet - William H. Macey talks about his relationship with David Mamet (Writer) and how he was influenced by his teacher.

  Overall  
Contract

Whilst not a cackle of a good time, WTD does provide a lot of moments where you do find yourself smirking and smiling. It's the lighter side of a black comedy as we don't get to dwell on any issue before we've moved on to the next one.

De Niro and Hoffman put in exceptional performances. De Niro is out of character to his previous, more famous roles whilst Hoffman provides an excellent portrayal of a producer obsessed with being credited for more than just having his name appear during the final credit roll.

There is an excellent supporting cast with Anne Heche providing another flawless performance as the presidential aide Winifred Ames with small parts provided by Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, Kirsten Dunst, William H. Macey and Woody Harrelson.


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