and Nothing But
not really in the mood to open my mind this week... please forgive
me. Instead, I watched a couple brand new discs, and figured I'd
just jump into that. So without further ado, here are reviews
featuring a down on-her-luck singer, a wrestling superstar turned
naked chick and one of my five favorite flicks from last year...
2001 (2002) - Columbia TriStar
Film Rating: D
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B-
Specs and Features:
103 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.40:1), 16x9 enhanced,
full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case
packaging, audio commentary with director Vondie Curtis Hall, music
videos for Loverboy and
Never Too Far by Mariah Carey,
cast and crew filmographies, theatrical trailers (for
Stage and Dance With Me),
animated film themed menu screens with sound, scene access (28
chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0),
subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned
Carey isn't having a good run right lately is she? Well, I'm not in
the habit of kicking someone when they're down - especially when I
think they have talent. And surprisingly, yes, I do believe Mariah
has talent. She's got a lot going for her; she's just a big
misguided. Take, for example, this flick. Glitter
is a tried and true Rising Star
genre film, cut from the A Star is Born
cloth. But it doesn't follow the proper format, and that's its
Billie (Carey) is a talented girl, born to a jazz singing mother
who gives her up. Growing up in the 80s, Billie wants nothing more
than to be a star. So, after doing a goofy bit of performance art in
a disco, she's discovered by a shady, typical, low tier
producer-type who gets her to be the singing voice of his current
star, who looks great but can't sing a note to save her own life.
When a DJ named Dice hears of this, he offers to buy her out of her
contract and make her a star in her own right. She agrees and Dice
offers up 100 grand for her contract. This becomes a haunting note
in the film, but for all intents and purposes, the movie takes off
from this point on.
Everything Billie touches turns to gold, and her dream of someday
playing Madison Square Garden is a bittersweet triumph. The end.
Okay, sounds neat enough, except for one thing: Billie never looses
her innocence, nor does she have any flaws. There's no alcoholism,
no drug addictions, nor crazy rants or raves. She's just even Steven
through the whole thing. Never does she bump or moan, never is there
a conflict in sight. For a film like this to work, your main
character has to really loose her innocence. She has to change as a
person. Just because she gains knowledge doesn't mean that she
changes. Everyone around either explodes or implodes... and
Billie/Mariah just stands there, wide-eyed and innocent.
Overall, I think Glitter
fails because it's straight vanilla. There's nothing to it. In terms
of story, Billie COULD be a wide-eyed innocent, but she has to grow
as a person. The positive I can throw in is: the music is good, the
production values are very nice and surprise, the acting is
serviceable (if it was coming from a lack of motivation). The
writing could have been a bit better considering, but overall,
Glitter is just a big empty
film with no value whatsoever. I can't recommend it because there's
nothing to recommend.
Video quality disc-wise is your standard Columbia TriStar fine, in
both anamorphic widescreen (side A) and full frame (side B). Blacks
are dense and color is very bright. I didn't notice any defects or
shimmer anywhere in the video. The audio is presented in Dolby
Digital 5.1 and sounds very good as well. It's a wide-open
presentation with lots of play. If you're a Carey fan, you'll enjoy
the songs and how they're given to us here.
Extras are heavy for a non-special edition. We get a very
lackadaisical commentary from director Vondie Curtis Hall, who "uhms"
and "uhs" throughout the whole thing and doesn't seem too
interested in discussing a bomb. He doesn't shed any light on why
the film doesn't really work. Also included are two music videos.
The first, for a modern version of Loverboy,
is photographic proof that Mariah lost it mentally. Why she would
make this video and think her loyal fans wouldn't question her
common sense is a mystery. The Never Too
Far video is the final scene from the film and is a good
video/song. The throw away extras are cast and crew filmographies
and theatrical trailers for Glitter,
Center Stage and
Dance With Me. Not half bad on
the effort scale, but nothing worth running out and seeing.
Ironically, just like the film itself.
Laurer: Wrestling Superstar - Nude
2002 (2002) - Playboy Home Video (Image)
Film Rating: A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A
Specs and Features:
26 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered,
Amaray keep case packaging, Joanie
Laurer: More Revealing Moments behind-the-scenes outtakes
and interviews, Playmates Unwrapped
and 2002 Video Playmate Calendar
previews, picture gallery (manual or automatic with music options),
film themed menu screens with sound, scene access (9 chapters),
languages: English (DD 2.0)
Chynna, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind. Oh Chynna!
What's this? A letter from the WWF? "Dear Mr. Doogan, we've
been informed that you are referring to the artist formerly known as
Chynna as simply Chynna. Please let this letter be your final
warning that from this point on, the artist formerly known as Chynna
shall henceforth be known only as Joanie Laurer. Thank you, signed -
expensive attorneys you don't want to mess with."
Hmmm. Okay. Actually, Joanie would like to be known as Joanie the
Warrior Princess/Joanie the Princess Warrior or Mistress Joanie
according to this new DVD.
Wait a second, here's another note, this time from Renaissance
Pictures and Universal: "Dear Mr. Doogan, please be informed
that Warrior Princess and all derivatives are trademark and
copyright of Renaissance Pictures, Universal Studios and USA
Television. Any future use without reference to Xena will bring
about a swift kick in the pants and a visit from Ted Raimi dressed
as Joxer. Thank you, signed - Lucy Lawless' husband."
Jesus, this is getting out of control. Let's get to the review.
Yes, it's true. That curiosity piece from a few month ago by the
glorious Playboy magazine now
has it's own video production diary. And I have to say, even if I
don't find big muscular girls sexy (although I have yet to be
propositioned by one), I found this DVD to be very interesting
indeed. Huh? Oh, crap... "Dear Mr. Doogan, you're married.
Touch a muscle bound chick and your new name is Bobbitt. Signed,
Fine. I'll leave it this way, if you like Playboy
and have ever been curious as to how a photo shoot goes from idea to
published photo spread, or you're a fan of Chynna - whoops, Joanie
Laurer - then this DVD might be right up your alley. It's nothing
more than Joanie's video diary following her around on the set of
her latest shoot. We see the set get built, how she posed,
interviews from the cast and crew as well as behind-the-scenes stuff
of Joanie embracing her newfound characters. It's not very long, but
it IS shockingly watchable.
And guess what? For what it is, it's a pretty sweet special edition
as well. Check this out... there's a section of extended interviews
and behind-the-scenes stuff that's just as long as the video feature
itself. And, for my money, it's even more interesting. Joanie in the
morning, Joanie in a limo. It shows her as a fragile person much
more than the feature does (and makes her out to be a 14-year old
girl in a Herculean body). There's also a photo gallery collecting
the photos from the shoot, some not even seen in the magazine. This
feature you can click through manually with your remote, or you can
turn on a slide show option that plays music and runs through the
photos for you. To leave your hands open for other things, I guess.
Yeeesh. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The DVD quality is very standard but very clean video, with good
sound. This was shot on digital video, but with high production
values so, you'll enjoy it visually and aurally.
So my apologies to WWF, Xena and, of course, my wife if I offended
them. God bless you all.
Laurer: Wrestling Superstar - Nude
2001 (2002) - MGM/UA
Film Rating: A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/C
Specs and Features:
111 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 59:49, in chapter
9), Amaray keep case packaging, Ghost
World: A Comic Book Comes to Life featurette,
Jaan Pehechaan Ho music clip
from 1965 film Gumnaam, 4
deleted/alternate scenes, theatrical trailer, DVD previews (for
Princess Bride and
Ghost World soundtrack ad,
animated film themed menu screens with sound, scene access (16
chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Spanish
and French, Closed Captioned
World, it wouldn't surprise anyone to know, was one of my
favorite films of last year. I found it incredibly charming, funny
and quite real. To me, it was like watching a next generation
Catcher in the Rye. The
observations are pure pop culture, but the identity is the same.
Enid hates phonies.
The film follows two friends, Enid and Rebecca (Thora Birch and
Scarlett Johansson respectively), as they pass from the world of
high school into the real world. They are in that "ghost world"
of sorts between childhood and adulthood, where you want all the
things that adults have, but find it hard to let go of the comforts
and curiosities of youth. That may not be the world that the title
Ghost World alludes to, but it
definitely takes place there. Over the course of the summer, Enid
passes the time away people watching and tormenting those with
slower minds than hers... which means just about everyone. First
it's Josh, the local convenience store clerk, who has the only
accessible car. Then it's Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a local record
collector and pop culture archivist, whom the two girls set up for a
prank but Enid ends up falling in pseudo-love with. It's a
complicated affair and makes up a large part of the film, so I'll
let the film itself explain that dynamic.
Ultimately, I really fell completely in love with ALL the
characters in Ghost World and
loved the movie all the way to the end. At which point I immediately
got angry, because I don't quite agree with the meaning, even if,
after many conversations about it, I seem to be the only one who
understands it's symbolism.
I highly recommend this film. I also recommend you read the
comic/graphic novel it's based on, by co-screenwriter Daniel Clowes.
A lot of the same stories are in the comic, with slightly different
bends. Director Terry Zwigoff, who gave us a twisted look at family
life and artistic genius with his documentary Crumb,
takes his first stab at feature filmmaking here. And I can't wait to
see what he tackles next. Ghost World
is worth a look and, hopefully, you'll like it as much as I did.
The DVD is a good way to check it out, although I was a bit
disappointed overall. The video is anamorphic widescreen - a bit on
the grainy and dull side, but I have to believe that this is the
look of the film, so I'm going to cut it some slack. It has a very
organic feel to it that translates very well to DVD. The audio is
Dolby Digital 5.1, but since this is a talky flick, it's pretty much
center-channeled except for some bigger music sequences (like the
The extras are what I was disappointed with, because they feature
nothing of real value. There are a few deleted scenes, but they
aren't really worth crowing about. I was hoping that a few more of
the comic's stories were told and not used, which is a not the real
complaint. But the fact that there wasn't a commentary is a huge
oversight in my mind. I can't believe that Zwigoff and/or Clowes
didn't want to talk about the film at all. There's a lot of stuff in
this movie that I really wanted to know more about. For example, if
anyone out there can tell me the artist's name that did some of the
poster work featured in Seymour's home, let me know. I'd love to
pick up some of that stuff if I can find it. Also included is a
trailer, a video clip of the Bollywood film featured in the opening
credits and a short featurette on the making of the film, which
isn't as valuable as one would have hoped. Oh, well. The movie is
incredible, but the disc is just okay. What are you gonna do? Go
pick this disc up. I'm sure you'll love the film... and that's what
again soon! You spin me right round, baby, right round. Like a DVD
player, right round, round round...