Traffic

Traffic

4.3 9
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro

     
 

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Traffic will be a sought-after DVD after the 2001 Oscars, but both fans of the film and those who missed it in theaters will find that for such a fine film the DVD falls drastically short of expectations. The disc is featureless except for a disappointing 15-minute featurette, the first three minutes of which are dedicated to a stylized summary of the film that runs a… See more details below

Overview

Traffic will be a sought-after DVD after the 2001 Oscars, but both fans of the film and those who missed it in theaters will find that for such a fine film the DVD falls drastically short of expectations. The disc is featureless except for a disappointing 15-minute featurette, the first three minutes of which are dedicated to a stylized summary of the film that runs a lot like an extended trailer and wastes time that should be spent talking about the production. The real missed opportunity is the commentary. After recording outstanding commentaries for Out of Sight and The Limey, this is the second film for which Soderbergh has neglected to record a commentary, and for the second time, his insight (and also, in this case, the insight of Oscar-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan) is sorely missed. Hopefully studios will learn to start giving Soderbergh whatever he wants to record commentaries in the future. As for the film itself, the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer retains the documentary look of the film while the Dolby track sounds a little muddy, most likely due to that same documentary approach. The only mistake made in the transfer is that the original subtitles are not kept, replaced instead by larger, more garish video subtitles. When compared to the impressive special editions given to its Oscar competitors, Traffic ultimately stands as the perfect example of a missed opportunity.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Drug users, dealers, and smugglers mix it up with the law in Steven Soderbergh's highly acclaimed, multi-award-winning Traffic. Based on a British TV miniseries, the film features an ensemble cast that includes Michael Douglas as the newly appointed federal drug czar whose 16-year-old daughter (Erika Christensen) just happens to be snorting, smoking, and mainlining her way through a potpourri of illegal substances. Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays the wife of a drug lord (Steven Bauer) whose world crumbles around her when he's arrested. Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro is riveting in his supporting role as a Mexican policeman who is enlisted to help bring down a Tijuana drug cartel. Also outstanding are Don Cheadle, as a DEA agent, and Dennis Quaid, as Bauer's high-priced lawyer. Traffic moves briskly back and forth between its various stories and locales, both north and south of the Mexican border, with characters and situations that are not so much original as archetypal. There's just enough philosophizing to be provocative and just enough action to get your pulse racing. Even though the film struggles to achieve a comprehensive overview, the result is never less than entertaining and absorbing. Certainly, Traffic is an impressive feat for Soderbergh, who not only directed the film but did all the gritty, handheld cinematography as well, giving each story line a distinctive palette: icy blue for the sequences involving Douglas and his wayward daughter; a sun-blasted brownish hue for the Mexico scenes. He was amply rewarded for his efforts, winning the Best Director Oscar. Traffic is Hollywood filmmaking with a distinctively personal stamp, a film that flirts easily with a host of clichés without succumbing to them.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Steven Soderbergh's magnum opus on the drug war, Traffic offers yet another one of the director's efforts to take conventionally engrossing, Hollywood-formula material and imbue it with a sense of authenticity, unpredictability, and vitality, much as he did with his wildly successful Erin Brockovich earlier in the year. Some seams still show -- namely, the all-too-ironic script conceit that the country's new drug czar happens to have an addict for a daughter -- but by and large, Traffic is issue-oriented storytelling of the highest order. To call the film a tour de force would be misleading; it's an intimate epic, and Soderbergh seems determined to make all of the script's grand statements resonate on a personal level. To this end, he's helped by his stable of performers: Michael Douglas is appropriately stiff as the conservative Ohio judge who learns he's in over his head in his new position; Catharine Zeta-Jones makes a believable transformation from naïve, pampered housewife to hard-edged schemer; Erika Christensen takes the aforementioned addict-daughter character and makes it her own, suggesting that habitual abuse can arise from the most banal of circumstances; and Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman provide subtle shadings to what could have been a standard buddy-cop routine. Best of all is Benicio Del Toro, whose cunning, straight-arrow cop, Javier Rodriguez, provides the film's heart and soul. Soderbergh's cinematography (credited under the pseudonym Peter Andrews) complements the performers, eschewing establishing shots, grandiose camerawork, and traditional Hollywood framing in favor of simple shifts in color and film stock to indicate place, mood, and time. Steven Mirrone's editing also flatters the audience's ability to make connections on their own, halting scenes as soon as a point has been made, and allowing others to linger onscreen to create palpable atmosphere. Instead of favoring the loud, overbearing rhythms which accompany most hot-button "issue films," Soderbergh quietly and consistently tightens his vice grip on the audience, allowing a breather only in the film's semi-hopeful dénouement. Though it may provide all of the pleasures of conventionally grand melodrama, Traffic feels unlike any epic that has come before it.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
Steven Soderbergh's great, despairing squall of a film, "Traffic", may be the first Hollywood movie since Robert Altman's "Nashville" to infuse epic cinematic form with jittery new rhythms and a fresh, acid- washed palette.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2001
UPC:
0696306018124
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
R
Source:
Polygram Usa Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, stereo]
Time:
2:27:00

Special Features

Theatrical trailers; TV spots; "Inside Traffic"; Photo gallery; Widescreen 16x9; Dolby Digital English 5.1; Dolby Digital English 2.0; French & Spanish subtitled; English SDH; Dual layered; Aspect ratio 1.85:1

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Douglas Robert Wakefield
Don Cheadle Montel Gordon
Benicio Del Toro Javier Rodriguez
Luis Guzman Ray Castro
Dennis Quaid Arnie Metzger
Catherine Zeta-Jones Helena Ayala
Erika Christensen Caroline Wakefield
Steven Bauer Carlos Ayala
Benjamin Bratt Juan Obregon
James Brolin Ralph Landry
Clifton Collins Francisco Flores
Miguel Ferrer Eduardo Ruiz
Albert Finney Chief of Staff
Topher Grace Seth Abrahms
Amy Irving Barbara Wakefield
Tomas Milian Arturo Salazar
D.W. Moffett Jeff Sheridan
Marisol Padilla Sanchez Ana Sanchez
Peter Riegert Attorney Michael Adler
Jacob Vargas Manolo Sanchez
Rena Sofer Helena's Friend
Mario Roberts DEA Agent (Public Storage)
Viola Davis Actor
Michael Showers Actor
Stephen Dunham Actor

Technical Credits
Steven Soderbergh Director
Peter Andrews Cinematographer
Greg Berry Set Decoration/Design
Laura Bickford Producer
Keith P. Cunningham Art Director
Louise Frogley Costumes/Costume Designer
Stephen Gaghan Screenwriter
Tim Golden Consultant/advisor
Marshall Herskovitz Producer
Greg Jacobs Asst. Director
Cameron Jones Executive Producer
Graham King Executive Producer
Andreas Klein Executive Producer
Paul Ledford Sound/Sound Designer
Cliff Martinez Score Composer
Philip Messina Production Designer
Stephen Mirrione Editor
Mike Newell Executive Producer
Maya Shimoguchi Set Decoration/Design
Richard Solomon Executive Producer
Barbara Ann Spencer Set Decoration/Design
Debra Zane Casting
Edward Zwick Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1
0. Scene Selections
1. Javier and Manolo make a bust [:12]
2. General Salazar [:11]
3. Robert leaves Ohio [:06]
4. Ray and Monte meet Eddie Ruiz [2:45]
5. Caroline and Seth after school [2:33]
6. Helena lunches with friends [2:23]
7. Robert briefed in Washington [5:10]
8. General Landry [2:19]
9. Javi and the tourists [1:38]
10. Robert at a Georgetown party [1:35]
11. Visiting Ruiz in the hospital [1:41]
12. Carl is arrested [1:44]
13. Salazar asks Javier for help [1:36]
14. Robert back at home in Ohio [1:42]
15. Arnie Metzger briefs Helena [:44]
16. Javier picks up Frankie Flowers [:13]
17. Caroline at a party [2:18]
18. Frankie's interrogation [1:21]
19. Arnie explains Carl's business [1:26]
20. Caroline at jail [2:07]
21. Robert and Barbara question Caroline [3:54]
22. Salazar plays "good cop" to Frankie [1:14]
23. Bail is denied [2:37]
24. Ruiz gives a statement [1:48]
25. Salazar eats dinner with Frankie [2:15]
26. Obregón cartel is hit by arrests [1:40]
27. Robert inspects the U.S./Mexico border [3:16]
28. "Tell me what to do" [2:00]
29. Caroline and Seth score drugs [2:40]
30. Helena is threatened at the beach [1:31]
31. Ana is looking for Manolo [1:09]
32. Robert gets a tour of EPIC [1:19]
33. Robert talks to his staff "out of the box" [2:21]
34. Helena asks Arnie for money [1:45]
35. Manolo sees The Scorpion [2:28]
36. Robert and Barbara argue in the car [1:46]
37. Robert catches Caroline [1:29]
38. The pool scene [2:00]
39. Helena makes lemonade for Ray and Monte [3:14]
40. Caroline in rehab [1:51]
41. Helena puts the pieces together [2:14]
42. Robert visits Salazar in Mexico City [2:16]
43. Ruiz visits his new home; testimony [1:02]
44. Helena meets with Frankie [1:30]
45. Caroline escapes rehab [1:47]
46. Ana is worried about Manolo [3:06]
47. Robert looking for Caroline (day) [1:54]
48. Caroline pays for her drugs [1:54]
49. Ruiz escorted to court; Frankie is sighted [1:30]
50. Frankie stalks Ruiz [:40]
51. Manolo in San Diego [1:12]
52. Two graves in the desert [1:09]
53. Robert looking for Caroline (night) [1:54]
54. Javier comforts Ana [2:09]
55. Helena makes a deal with Juan Obergón [3:15]
56. Javier goes on the wire [1:23]
57. Monte at the funeral [2:30]
58. Sheridan calls Robert about Salazar [1:22]
59. Robert takes Seth on a "field trip" [1:47]
60. Robert meets Caroline's dealer [2:33]
61. Javier talks to Ana about Manolo [1:15]
62. Robert follows Seth [1:42]
63. Eddie Ruiz's "big day" [1:21]
64. Javier makes another bust in the desert [1:36]
65. Robert's White House press conference [1:37]
66. Carl talks with Arnie; Monte comes over [1:27]
67. "We're here to listen;" night baseball [2:06]
68. End titles [3:10]

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