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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

The Informant!

An appealing bait-and-switch tale, pretty much based upon true events, Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, has been released by Warner Home Video. Channeling William H. Macy, Matt Damonstars as an executive in a large food conglomerate who confesses to the FBI that he has been involved in a worldwide price fixing scam when he is called in on the investigation of another matter. He agrees to help gather evidence against his supervisors, but the case unfolds in a number of unexpected ways. Scott Bakula co-stars. Although set in the Nineties, Soderbergh uses a Marvin Hamlisch musical score and title card typefaces that evoke the Seventies, with perhaps the reason for this being the same untethered spirit that informs the narrative and motivates the hero. The film has a satisfying level of sophistication in the complexity of the deals the hero is involved in that plays well against the inherent humor of his distracted and guarded personality.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. As usual, Soderbergh does his own, typically murky, bland cinematography, which is transferred as well as it can be amid the haze. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has a reasonably effective mix and is adequately delivered. There are alternate French and Spanish tracks in 5.1 Dolby, optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, and 6 minutes of deleted scenes that often hit the nail too square on the head, although a couple are quite funny.

The Blu-ray can do nothing to rescue the cinematography and in fact, the way these things work, it actually makes it look worse, as you are more aware of how fuzzy everything is. The sound is better detailed, but the differences are minor. The subtitling and special features are carried over from the DVD, with one additional feature (which really belongs on a DVD for reasons of convenience), a commentary track featuring Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. It is a reasonably informative talk, going over both the making of the film and the background of its subject. Near the end, they talk about how badly the film did in previews, but anticipate, since they were recording the track before the film’s commercial release, that the boxoffice gross would prove the previews wrong. Sorry guys, didn’t happen. They also, at another point, demonstrate an obliviousness to irony as they digress into a discussion of candy corn and how it has ‘no corn in it,’ when in fact, as the opening narration of the film clearly lays out, the candy, like practically every other food item, is loaded with corn syrup.

– 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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