Film DVD Reviews
COMEDY/DRAMA THE KID (U) 60min (Park Circus) ●●●●● By the time he made The Kid, Charlie Chaplin was an international movie star whose films had begun to earn a million bucks apiece. And although he’d been behind the camera since
1914, writing, directing, producing, editing and scoring his own films (as many as 35 in a single year), it wasn’t until he made his feature-length debut in 1921 that he graduated from being a gifted entertainer to a genuine artist. (Read all about that in Glen David Gold’s epic novel Sunnyside).
Watching this painstakingly restored high-definition re-issue of The Kid, you can see with crystal clarity the artistic leap Chaplin made. The endlessly inventive knockabout comedy’s still a riot, but the simple story of Charlie’s beloved Tramp adopting the titular
orphaned waif (astonishing child actor Jackie Coogan, who would, four decades later, morph into The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester) is elevated by real pathos. Extras include introduction, docs, deleted scenes, and Chaplin showreel. Also available in Blu-ray. (Miles Fielder) DRAMA BEFORE I FORGET (AVANT QUE J’OUBLIE) (15) 108min (Peccadillo) ●●●●●
In this episodic account of an aging homosexual’s life in Paris, writer and director Jacques Nolot takes the
leading role of writer Pierre in a film that looks at the alternative networks of communication. Roles here would seem to be more fluid than in hetero existence, with older partners becoming father figures, friends becoming unrequited lovers, young lovers adopted sons and even the sandwich delivery bloke can momentarily be turned into a rent boy. Nolot has no statement to make; but observes astutely the numerous alternative choices involved in gay living.
US COMEDY TV ON DVD Reno 911
Whether depicting sexual congress, the dead time of writer’s block or making a cup of coffee naked in the middle of the night, Before I Forget is everything one wanted Tom Ford’s A Single Man to be. Quiet and contemplative, Nolot’s camera approach brilliantly gives everything a great deal of space but is never less than attentive to the details. It also has a great sense of what sound theorist Michel Chion calls ‘vast extension’ – sound that extends beyond the immediate parameters of dramatic action, and that here helps capture the film’s melancholic aspect. Minimal extras. (Tony McKibbin) DRAMA MY FATHER MY LORD (12) 76min (Artificial Eye) ●●●●●
From the opening frame of an Orthodox Haredic Rabbi in torment about some as yet unknown personal and spiritual agony, you know you’re in for a tough ride. The painful finale questions everything that this tunnel-visioned individual has held dear and unquestioned. Living a life driven solely
It came to these shores amid a storm of publicity at the start of the year, and against almost every odd, Glee (Fox ●●●●●) comes up trumps. Memorable moments from season one include Kurt using a Beyoncé number to help him get ahead in American football, the William McKinley crew duetting with a deaf choir for ‘Imagine’ and the endless slushing of hapless victims in the school hallway. If all that singing and dancing and teenage impregnating is too uplifting for you, Best Medicine have released a trio of DVDs that will test your limits of tolerance to varying degrees. The concept of the ‘comedy roast’ is a proud US tradition which dates back
to the 1920s but has now morphed into a public display of strapping a celeb into the stocks and chucking metaphorical faeces-filled pies at them. In Comedy Central: Roast of Denis Leary (●●●●●), the former stand-up turned character actor (a character that is pretty much usually ‘Denis Leary’) is rotated on a spit c/o host Jeff Garlin and Leary’s pals from The Job and Rescue Me while showbiz chums such as Kiefer Sutherland and Liz Hurley catch some unfriendly fire by being sat far too close to him. There’s nothing in there as brutal as the demolition job on a clearly soused
Courtney Love during the Pamela Anderson roast (‘how is it possible that she looks worse than Kurt Cobain?’) but such hilarious poison would have been a blessing in Chappelle’s Show (●●●●●). In the States, Dave Chappelle is viewed as something of a comedy god but there’s no evidence whatsoever to justify that in this apparently ‘uncensored’ DVD. While he does attempt to tackle some contentious issues (mainly racism) in his horribly lame sketches, there’s always a ‘titty’ gag round the corner to keep the numbskulls within his fanbase amused.
At least there’s a pleasant surprise in store with cop comedy Reno 911 (●●●●●) which, looking at the DVD cover, threatens to be a pale imitation of Police Squad and Naked Gun but is actually an often very funny spoof of the police-on-the-job documentary sub-genre. From the opening salvo of a cop entering his own surprise party and gunning a colleague down, the show is an endless riot of inappropriate fun. (Brian Donaldson)
54 THE LIST 29 Apr–13 May 2010
New York Times referenced both The Usual Suspects and Reservoir Dogs during their review for this, presumably because you’re not quite sure who’s telling the truth and someone gets a body part lopped off while strapped to a chair. Thankfully, they couldn’t be bothered knocking up any DVD extras to prolong the agony. (Brian Donaldson) HORROR SALVAGE (18) 81min (Revolver) ●●●●●
This, the second of three films made under the micro-budget Digital Departures scheme initiated in 2008 during Liverpool’s year as City of Culture, couldn’t be more different from its predecessor, Terence Davies’ documentary paean to his hometown, Of Time and City. In contrast to Davies’ sublime film, Salvage, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year alongside the third Digital Departure, Kicks, is a modest, generically conventional, reasonably effective horror film. When a ship’s
container is washed up on a beach on the Wirral, the residents of a nearby housing estate are kept in their homes by a special ops army unit that’s on a mission to recover its mysterious and now AWOL contents. What follows plays like an episode of Brookside (the defunct soap provides the film’s sets) directed by George A Romero – and the denouement recalls the bitter end of Night of the Living Dead. Extras include audio commentaries, on-set cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes featurette. (Miles Fielder)
by obsessive study of the Torah, Abraham (Assi Dayan) gives little regard for the feelings of his browbeaten wife Esther and playful young son Menahem. When a visit is made to the Dead Sea, a tragedy ensues which tests everyone’s fibre. This sombre debut feature (whose DVD extras are limited to a suitably subtle trailer) from writer and director David Volach is a harsh yet beautiful chamber piece about a dark struggle between faith and family and how matters close to the heart will eventually rip the blinkers away from dogmatic belief. (Brian Donaldson)
CRIME DRAMA THE LEVEL (18) 87min (Brightspark) ●●●●●
Quentin Tarantino might have an awful lot to answer for, but perhaps even he can’t be blamed for the appalling effort that is The Level. ‘Written’ and ‘directed’ by the Crook Brothers (Josh and Jeff), it contains some of the most quality-free dialogue and ropiest acting ever consigned to the straight-to-bargain- basement market and a ‘plot’ which aims for enigmatic but plops into a file named ‘risible’. When mobster Eddie attempts to discover the truth behind his boss’ disappearance, he gets wrapped up in an escalating body count and implausible lesbian- gangster set-ups. Some crazy at the