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Reviewed July 18th, 2001 by Brian White


No, Thirteen Days is not the length of the new Kevin Costner film, Thirteen Days is the title of the new Kevin Costner film. It is also the first Infinifilm DVD release from New Line. This is supposed to be a new approach to DVD extras that takes you “beyond the movie.” This movie has a lot of flash in terms of video and audio. It'll make you proud of your system.

Based on Robert F. Kennedy's book (and the critics say loosely based), about the Cuban missile crisis, the film is mostly a bunch of actors walking around the West Wing set using fake New England accents. Kevin Costner, plays Kenny O'Donnel, the President's Special Assistant.” Does this mean he's like Charlie on the West Wing? He acts more like Leo.

Apart from the silly criticisms about the film's verisimilitude, and O'Donnel's actual roll in the crisis, Thirteen Days is a fantastic, dramatic film that deals with the hottest part of the cold war. Performances are great. Even though we know the outcome, there is real drama here. It is mostly a veneration of the Kennedys, but there is a swipe at Joseph senior.

Of particular note is Bruce Greenwood's portrayal of JFK. He is certainly no splitting image for the man, but his physical performance is quite extraordinary. He walks like JFK, sits like him, and obviously, he speaks like Kennedy.

How does the disc look? Quite good. This anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer is a little grainy, but very detailed. You'll still make out every pore on the characters' faces in close-ups. Color is also quite good. About the graininess, is this look intended to make the film seem more serious? The grain isn't an issue in the theater, but it certainly shows up at home.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track is very good as well. There is plenty of music coming from the surrounds, and the jet and bomb sound effects are quite dynamic. This is a rich mix. Amazon.com says there's a DTS mix here, but I couldn't find it.

The most interesting thing about this DVD is the quality of the extras. Now you might ask, is “Infinifilm” all about the quality of the extras, or the presentation of the extras? I would say the later. Certainly, there is an awful lot here. You get the behind-the-scenes documentary, and a director's commentary. You also get a cool commentary track where you hear historical figures giving relevant speeches about whatever's happening at the time. About the presentation, a la White Rabbit on the Matrix DVD, you can select the Infinifilm feature, which gives you an overlay on the screen at various points in the film. The overlay allows you to view footage about historical facts, or about the filmmaking. This is a cool feature, meant to take you “beyond the film.” Certainly, this DVD (perhaps more than the film itself), is a great place for a young history student to begin the Cuban Missile Crisis journey.

Maybe Infinifilm isn't the revolution it's hyped to be, but there's a lot on this disc.


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