DVD Gives 'Bubble' A Little Extra Fizz

By Jen Chaney
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 27, 2006

"Bubble," the latest from director Steven Soderbergh, opens in theaters today, but there's no need to wait for the DVD.

The movie also debuts today on home video and television -- via the high-definition cable and satellite network HDNet. (The pioneering distribution approach is already catching on: IFC Entertainment announced this week it will release six films "day and date" -- in theaters and through a video-on-demand service.)

The DVD -- available today in lobbies of many Landmark theaters, including the E Street in Washington, and Tuesday at the usual retail outlets -- retails for $29.98 and, unlike the other formats, it offers a slate of bonus features. But do they merit a trip straight to DVD? Here's a look:

Deleted Scene: In the movie, Soderbergh leaves a major plot point -- why an unspeakable act occurred -- open to interpretation. These six minutes of omitted material fill in the blanks, which may satisfy viewers who hate shades of gray -- but disappoint those who relish the original ending's sense of cinematic mystery.

Interview with Steven Soderbergh: It's only passably interesting. Skip it and instead watch . . .

"Bursting the 'Bubble': The Real Lives of the Actors": This engaging featurette reveals the movie's cast of nonprofessional actors, many of whom based elements of their characters on their personal lives. What a kick to discover that Debbie Doebereiner, the movie's haunting lead, took a leave of absence from her job as manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken to star in a Steven Soderbergh film.

"Finding the Cast": This extra consists of 23 minutes of audition interviews with three cast members. Again, Doebereiner's story of single motherhood and finding love in a second, happy marriage emerges as the most compelling.

Two Commentary Tracks: The audio of cast members and screenwriter Coleman Hough is a monotonous snooze. But the track in which filmmaker Mark Romanek essentially interviews Soderbergh offers insights into the world of independent filmmaking. It ends with this Soderbergh comment about releasing a film in multiple formats: "I don't think it's going to destroy the moviegoing experience any more than the ability to get takeout has destroyed the restaurant business."

Verdict: "Bubble" is arguably most intriguing because of the way it was made and marketed -- something the DVD extras succeed at illuminating. But paying more than $15 or $20 to own it seems like a waste. Netflix, anyone?

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