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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 1/27/03




The world of DVD coverage is changing...

More and more, we as DVD critics are having less original things to say about a disc's transfer, audio quality or worthiness of extras. It's enough to make one give the whole thing up. Seriously. If I'm forced to think of something original to say about another disc's spotless transfer again, I think I'll pull the rest of my graying hair out by the roots and call it a day.

Which, in a way, is what I did. People have been asking, "Todd, where did you go?" or, "Bill, where did Todd go?" And the truth is, I went away for a while. DVD coverage has bored me to no end. I can't even read other people's reviews anymore, because my eyes just start glazing over. DVD quality has gotten so good, it's to the point where it's become all standard.

But I can't quit doing this. I love movies too much.

So, the way Doogan's Views will work in the future is this: I'll review what I see and talk about what makes the film good or bad. I'll do it almost as a diary, but I won't talk about everything in detail unless it really warrants discussion. Generally, you won't hear me discuss the video and audio quality of the disc, unless it's either so good or so bad as to be worth mentioning. And I won't run down all the specs either. But if there's a supplemental item on the disc of particular note, I'll let you know. This way, you'll learn what you really need to know, and I'll be able to cover a lot more ground with each column.

DVD is all about the films. That's the whole point for us here at The Digital Bits. And that's never been truer these days. More and more great films are coming to us on disc, and every one of them deserves a viewing - at least once. But to help you all make the most of your time and money, I'll watch 'em for you and weed out the crap.

So... submitted for your approval, here's my thoughts on a bunch of discs I've watched in my down time in the last few weeks. I hope you enjoy.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

Doogan's Views - Main Page



City of Lost Souls

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City of Lost Souls (aka The Hazard City)
2000 (2002) - Chimera Entertainment (Ventura Distribution, Inc.)

This film is a real blast. Cult superstar director Takashi Miike is churning out film after film with no signs of slowing down. City of Lost Souls isn't what you'd expect Miike to give us after seeing his incredibly creepy Audition. It's a full-blown romantic action fest with kinetic visual style and a sucker punch ending... whereas Audition was full-blown anti-romance with kinetic visual style and a sucker punch ending. Hmmm. Anyway, based on a novel by Seishu Hase, which in itself seems very much inspired by Tarantino's True Romance, City follows Brazilian/Japanese Mario as he keeps his Chinese girlfriend Kei from being deported out of Japan. Using a tour helicopter and a bunch of bullets, Kei and Mario escape and head for town, where they break up a very big drug deal between the Triad and the Yakuza. You'd expect things to get out of hand... and boy do they. I won't spoil things for you, except to say that if your tastes are similar to mine, you'll love this flick. If you're at the DVD shop and you like the cover art, then buy this disc 'cause it's truly worth it. There's not a lot in way of extras, but it's a great little gem of a flick.

Doogan Says: It's a solid B+




The Donner Party

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The Donner Party
1992 (2003) - PBS (Warner)

To me, one of the saddest, most horrifying chapters in American history is the Donner Party tragedy. And after watching this spooky as hell documentary, you'll see just how stupid the whole situation was. Maaaan. Directed by Ken Burns' brother Ric, this is one of the best docs I've seen in a very long time. No question goes unanswered, and for the astute film fan, you might catch the references to the Donner-friendly film The Shining. After watching this, I started really wanting to see a dramatic film about these events. The nuances and tragedy of it would make for a very cool feature. If history is your thing, do check this disc out.

Doogan Says: A




Bacchanales Sexuelles

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Bacchanales Sexuelles (aka Fly Me the French Way)
1973 (2002) - Synapse Films

There's no story to speak of, it's French and it's full of the absolute hardest soft-core sex I've ever seen. If you love lesbians (and who doesn't) then walk, don't run, to the local video store to check this ode to nothingness. Synapse gives us another king's treatment of a lost classic... and if I had anything more to say, I would. But what can you say about a film where two girls love on one another until an abduction... after which they go and love on a bunch of other people? Not much more to mention really. Except, if you're a fan of Synapse's work in the past, this is one of their better "preservation" acts.

Doogan Says: B-




I Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition

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I Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition
1978 (2002) - Elite Entertainment

I doubt the "rape film" genre will ever fully take off, even though if pushed hard I could come up with five or so films that center on a rape. But without a doubt, I Spit On Your Grave is the king daddy of rape films. Half the film is a prolonged gang rape, and it's some tough s**t to take in. When a city girl finally decides to tackle the great American novel, she sets up in a small cabin in the "country". And, being a modern woman, she wears her sex appeal with naïve honor. So it's not surprising that the town bad boys decide she's "asking for it" when they bum rush her in her canoe and take turns raping her as she crawls home. So what's a modern woman to do once she's been turned inside out by a bunch of rednecks? Get revenge. And so she does, in a variety of stomach turning ways. I Spit is a cult classic and it's a surprisingly good film. It's actually not as in your face as you'd expect, but it's definitely hard to watch. My wife, who's pretty "feminist", watched the film with me and she instantly saw the value in the film, not finding it gratuitous in the least. So that must be saying something. The extras mainly include commentary tracks - one that appeared on the previous incarnation of this disc and a new one with Joe Bob Briggs, who brings a nice fan boy touch to the film without being insulting to your intellect or your morals. If you know the work of Joe Bob, then you know what to expect and it's all pretty good. I don't know why Elite felt the need to Millennium this film, but it is an improvement over the earlier release.

Doogan Says: B




Undisputed

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Undisputed
2002 (2002) - Miramax

You know, I was actually very surprised to like this flick as much as I did. I shouldn't be, considering Walter Hill is consistently an incredible filmmaker and doesn't get the due he deserves. Undisputed is well crafted, well acted and very well written. It's a good prison film and an even better boxing movie. Ving is great, Wesley is great and even the supporting players leave a mark. Wesley plays a boxing champion who's in prison and has become the prison system champion. Ving, who is the world champ on the outside, is sent down the river for a case of date rape. Is he guilty? It doesn't matter, because to prove he's no bitch, he challenges Wesley to a fight. And when it happens, the true definition of champ will be told for the entire world to see. Well... at least the prison world. Extras are light, but there is a nice set of interviews with the two stars.

Doogan Says: B+




2003 Playboy Video Playmate Calendar

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2003 Playboy Video Playmate Calendar
2002 (2002) - Playboy

What can you really say about Playboy videos? If you like naked women, then you'll love these discs. I'm a bigger fan of the Playboy looks behind particular shoots, like the Joanie Laurer spread. But for pure fluff, you can't get much better than this. In fact, there's some unintentional humor involved with the 2003 Calendar edition, and I always prefer unintentional humor over the intentional variety. Watch it and see if you can figure out the mainstream pop song the composer is stealing the music from, by adding new lyrics. Essentially this disc is nothing more than slow moving shots of naked women doing the stuff that naked women do... like wash their goodies, rolling around on a bed and kissing guys who look like they'd rather be kissing other guys.

Doogan Says: C+




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