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Animated Discussion of 'Antz'; 'Loud' Offers Director's Insights

April 01, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DreamWorks' DVD release of its hit "Antz" is an amusing journey into the world of computer animation, and New Line's classy DVD edition of the romantic comedy-drama "Living Out Loud" offers insight into the mind of a first-time director.

"Antz" has more of an adult sensibility in its humor and characters than Disney's "A Bug's Life." How many wee ones will understand Woody Allen's neurotic shtick as the world-weary ant, Z, who ends up falling in love with the princess of the ant colony (Sharon Stone)?

The DVD ($35) is chock-full of extras. Besides the wide-screen edition of the film, there are several TV spots, the original theatrical trailer, reports on how computer animation is done and the metamorphosis of the characters, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production, complete with interviews with the vocal talent, including Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman and Anne Bancroft.

The commentary by "Antz" directors Eric Darnelland Tim Johnson is merely icing on the cake. They offer a breezy look at the making of the movie that even the computer-illiterate will understand. The duo talk about how thrilled they were to get Allen to voice Z and how Stallone often improvised during his recordings.

The directors even note that though the termites in the movie destroy the army of ants, ants in reality are actually capable of annihilating termites.

*

Despite garnering generally excellent reviews when it was released in the fall, Richard LaGravenese's subtle "Living Out Loud" ($25) failed to light up the box office. Perhaps it will find a life on video and DVD.

Holly Hunter stars as a lonely divorcee with an active fantasy life who becomes friends with an equally lonely elevator man (Danny DeVito) in her apartment building. Queen Latifah also stars as a blues singer who befriends Hunter.

The deluxe edition features the wide-screen edition of the movie, the theatrical trailer, five deleted scenes (including the full performance of Queen Latifah's rendition of "Lush Life"), cast and crew filmographies and biographies.

Also included are readings of the Anton Chekhov short stories "The Kiss" and "Misery," which influenced LaGravenese.

Though LaGravenese, who wrote the screenplays for "The Fisher King," "The Bridges of Madison County" and "The Horse Whisperer," often comes across as an intellectual snob, he honestly discusses the trials and tribulations of making his directorial debut--including the pacing of scenes--and how he relied on the expertise of his director of photography, John Bailey.

Also: "Nosferatu" (Anchor Bay, $30): Werner Herzog's 1979 vampire thriller features both the English- and German-language versions of the film in wide screen, complete with commentary from Herzog, three trailers and a featurette.

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