Crime Week, Day 5: The Bling Ring

Let's lighten up Crime Week a little bit!  After all a true crime doesn't have to be a shocking, gut-wrenching murder.  Breaking and entering's a crime, robbery's a crime... So how about an excellent mediation on one of society's most famous cases of both with 2013's Bling Ring, based on the real string of Hollywood Hills Burglaries from 2008 to 2009.  Now, there were actually two movies about the so-called Bling Ring, both entitled The Bling Ring.  The first, a 2011 Lifetime movie, wasn't unwatchable or anything.  Jennifer Grey is the mom and it's available on DVD, too.  But, of course, this post is for the good one, by Sofia Coppola.
Emma Watson received and proved worthy of the spotlight here in one of her first post-Harry Potter films, although it's the far less touted Israel Broussard (of the Happy Death Day movies) who really walks away with this film in the end, capturing the sincere sweetness behind the youths.  If you don't already know, the bling ring was a crew of fame-obsessed Hollywood high schoolers ("I just have to graduate so I can go to the Institute of Fashion & Design?  That's where all the Hills girls went."  "Cool.  And then intern at Teen Vogue?"  "Totes.  And then have my own line and fragrance, host my own show."  "Yeah.  I'd like to have my own lifestyle."  "Definitely.") who figure out that they can find celebrities' homes and schedules online, and that a lot of them were probably naive enough to leave their doors unlocked.  Thus began a string of burglaries that went unsolved, and often unnoticed, for over a year, despite zero cunning or care being put into getting away with it, even posting selfies of themselves in their victims homes and clothes.  Pretty vacant stars like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox wound up unwittingly funding equally vapid lifestyles of their underage neighbors.
The film somewhat clumsily straddles the line between an insightful examination of a damaged community unable to care for its children and a parody of celebrity culture.  Broussard is definitely starring in the former while Watson stars in the latter.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.  It's the collision of these two dimensions that created the bling ring, and understanding their world means being able to navigate both.  And Coppola's specialty is creating a poetic ecosystem with the camera, so everything from the pop soundtrack cues to the entertainment news footage all wind up mixing together into one, authentically diseased world we can inhabit with the characters.  We also get a rare non-Apatow casting of Leslie Mann (in the Jennifer Grey role) and cameos from Paris Hilton and Coppola favorite Kirsten Dunst as themselves.  Characters narrate to an off-camera interviewer verbatim statements the real kids were quoted as saying in the famous Vanity Fair article that this film is directly based on, and Paris even allowed Coppola to film in her house, further swirling the fiction with the non, resulting in a more vibrant, complicated art piece than any single tact could have produced on its own.
The Bling Ring's history on home video ain't complicated.  Lions Gate released it as separate DVD and blu-ray releases in the Fall of 2013, and mirroring editions were released in most other regions around the world at the same time.  The only noteworthy point about that is that several of the foreign editions, especially the German editions, include a few additional brief extras, all taken from promo materials, so if you're a super hardcore fan, you might want to look into importing.  But all the extras of substance are on the US discs and all the transfers are made from the same DCP.
1) 2013 Lions Gate US DVD; 2) 2013 Lions Gate US BD.
Both discs are theoretically matted to 1.85:1, though the DVD's actually more like 1.83:1.  Both images contain exactly the same information, however, with the difference accounted for by a slight vertical stretching of the DVD.  Otherwise, like I said, it's all taken from the same DCP, so the colors and everything are exactly the same.  Of course the BD is higher resolution so it's sharper and resolves fine detail more accurately.  This film was shot digitally, so we can't look to film grain to tell us anything; but you don't need an eagle eye to see how much sharper the kids' faces are in the second set of shots, for example.  Apart from that very minor stretching on the DVD, it's exactly what you'd expect from the same transfer being used on a DVD and BD.

Things are just as predictable (happily, most surprises in this area tend to be unwanted) in the audio department, too.  Both discs feature the film's original 5.1 mix, in DTS-HD on the blu, with optional English and Spanish subtitles.  The only slight surprise is that the BD offers an extra, third set of subtitles, giving us both English and English SDH, whereas the DVD offers just the basic English.
The extras aren't too dense, but they're nice.  There's a 23-minute 'making of' documentary, but it's more than your standard promo EPK piece.  It's one of the more raw, revealing behind-the-scenes pieces we've come to find with a number of Coppola's films.  Then there's another documentary of almost the same length, that goes into the real story, giving you footage of the real ring members, actual security footage, interviews, etc.  When it comes to these true crime films on disc, you really want a piece like this to compare the reality to the dramatization you just watched, and this fills that need.  But if you want to go even further, the final feature is an exclusive interview with Paris Hilton, where she talks about her experience and takes us on a little tour through her home/ the crime scene, answering questions along the way ("those pillows were a gift from a girlfriend").  Finally we get the trailer and a bunch of "bonus" trailers that play on start-up.  Both editions also come in an attractive slipcover.
So this is an easy one.  A widely distributed theatrical film from the time when physical media was stronger?  If this already isn't in your collection, you can pick it up anytime, cheap and convenient.  And short of Criterion creating more extras because they've suddenly decided this is essential to their collection, the current release really leaves you wanting for nothing.  And this is such an endlessly rewatchable film, it would just be silly not to have it.

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