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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert

I am such a 3-D junkie that the moment I obtained the Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 2-Disc Extended Edition release, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds Concert, I tore it open with a lustful glee that would not have been equaled had Cyrus herself been sitting next to me on the couch, offering me the sequins on her miniskirt.

The 3-D program appears on the second platter and the standard version appears on the first platter. The 2008 production runs 82 minutes and begins with rehearsal and backstage footage (not in 3-D) before moving on to the concert. Thereafter, there are occasional cuts back to the offstage footage, but they become fewer and fewer as the program progresses. In that nothing needs to be done to enhance the excitement the fans are experiencing simply attending the concert, the choreography is not elaborate and the stage production is fairly basic. Ironically, the viewer is more aware of this because of the attention given to the rehearsals in the opening segment. For each song, there will be one or two mildly complicated moves punctuating a repetitious pattern where Cyrus skips around the stage a bit, advances onto the causeway that extends into the audience, sings and waves a little, and then retreats back to the stage. A few fireworks go off here and there, enormous video screens underscore the action on the stage, and there is enough basic decoration to convey a sense of importance to the event without challenging its profit margins. The first portion of the concert is taken up with the songs made familiar in the Disney TV show that features Cyrus in her clever dual personality (she’s a ‘normal’ teenager who keeps her life as a ‘rock star’ secret), and she performs them in a blonde wig, using the Montana character. The songs speak to this same duality and the conflicts of adolescence that it deftly reflects. After an appearance by the increasingly popular Disney boy band, The Jonas Brothers, Cyrus does a costume change offstage and doffs the wig, to return as her ‘real’ self, with somewhat more mature songs that suggest, rather pointedly, the direction she wishes to take both her persona and her career.

On the first platter, the show is available in both widescreen format, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback, and in full screen format, adding nothing to the top or bottom of the image and losing a lot from the sides. The color transfer is sharp and unaffected by the stage lighting. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound is solid, with some rear channel activity and plenty of power if you feel like pumping the volume. There are optional English subtitles, and a special feature segment that brings up just the songs, with karaoke-style subtitling. There are also two deleted numbers, one featuring theJonas Brothers running 3 minutes and one with Cyrus in her Cyrus incarnation, also running 3 minutes. Additionally, there is a decent 12-minute featurette, showing Cyrus poking around the stage set and talking about the concert (she is part of that maddening vowel shift sweeping America that has changed the pronunciation of ‘tour’ to ‘taur’), her outfits (she pronounces ‘jewelry’ as ‘jolry’) and her schedule leading up to the concert, and including a few quick clips of the Jonas Brothers talking about their participation.

The second platter has just the 3-D version of the concert, again in letterboxed format or full screen format, with no special features other than the optional English subtitling. There are four sets of red/blue glasses included as a jacket insert. They subdue almost all of the colors, but it’s worth it. The 3-D has a tendency to make everything seems smaller, but the perspectives are incredible, and every time Cyrus jaunts down that causeway, you feel like you are hovering just a few feet away. The best angle is from the drums platform, where the entire stage is laid out below and extending, along with the audience, into the distance, and the best segment is the ‘slow song’ that Cyrus (as herself) sings, because the editing and camera movement calm down and you really get a chance to savor the effect within a single shot. But there are also times when the microphone gets thrust toward the camera-and one squeal moment when a guitarist tosses his pic right at the lens-or when one camera captures another on a boom, looming over the crowd and Cyrus like a huge serpent, and there is confetti, the fireworks and all of the other thrills that are so much more tantalizing in 3-D than they could ever hope to be in yesterday’s 2-D.

With video playback technology finally maturing to a level equivalent with film, 3-D in full color cannot be that far off. Many people complain that movies now aren’t what they once were and that nothing new ever seems to be coming out, but in reality, the party is just getting started, and pretty soon, 3-D programs are going to jettison their own toylike trappings just like Cyrus, and take on the world as legitimate entertainment.

August 14, 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 www.DVDLaser.com

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The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
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