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"I wanna send my love out to River Phoenix. When I look at this movie, my heart just breaks at the potential because I wanted to keep seeing his work and his growth. But, I feel very privileged to have worked with him when he was at this wonderful stage of doing such a daring thing."- Nancy Savoca
The always enjoyable to listen to soundtrack for the movie Dogfight has been available for many years now, but it was not until 2003 that the full film was released on DVD format. Distribution of this movie, even back to the time of its initial release in 1991, has always been poor, particular outside of the United States. What a shock it was therefore to discover that, either through plain oversight or a deliberate act to correct this state of affairs, this DVD becomes only the second movie of River's to be released, besides My Own Private Idaho, without any region coding protection. In other words, this DVD should play in just about any DVD player anywhere in the world.
Bonus features are straight-forward enough - the movie's trailer is present and, to accompany the movie, an audio commentary track is also available. The director of the film, Nancy Savoca, has always talked very highly of River so listening to this commentary featuring her promised to be very interesting.
Also featuring producer Richard Guay, the commentary reveals hitherto unknown facts behind the movie. Exposed for the first time, for example, is the notion that this movie came quite close to being River's first black-and-white film as well as Rose's café in San Francisco, was in reality, an art gallery in Seattle.
Nancy also talks about many of the difficulties River experienced during filming. This could be something as straight-forward as being nervous about shooting some of the last scenes of the movie on the first day of filming without giving Eddie Birdlace, or more precisely, River, the chance to experience the rest of the film's story, through to him being very shaken after filming the scene where Rose attacks his character after discovering the reasons behind her night out. In actual fact, the director talks about River's character at great length, and the new insights she provides are both fascinating and valuable. "The way he's playing this character, and it was revealing itself to me every day, was actually really much more complicated than what I had imagined which was kind of great and I really appreciate it."
"When we were doing the bus scene and River saw the dailies, it was very interesting," recalls the director. "He came over to me. 'You know,' he said, 'I like the way you're shooting this because you're not making me the movie-star.' Instead of being like 'Hey! Why aren't I getting my close-ups?' it was more like 'This is really great because this is right for the movie,' and I love that he saw that."
The work of many of the stars in the movie, as well as those that worked behind the camera, is also discussed and praised, but without doubt it's the two main stars of the movie, River and Lili Taylor, that the commentators feel moved to talk about the most. "You look at these two young actors and you realize how fine they were because we gave them like this little scene, which is basically 'he puts lipstick on her' and look what they did with it..."