Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 4/3/00
Love and Death on
1996 (2000) - Universal
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/D
Specs and Features
94 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical
trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (18 chapters),
languages: English (DD 2.0 Surround), Closed Captioned
Giles De'Ath (John
Hurt) is a reticent and esteemed British novelist, seen by some as
an erstwhile fogey. He leads a quiet life, choosing to avoid or
ignore most of the modern day, non-literary conveniences. He owns
neither a VCR nor a television set and he is fine with this... until
he decides to attend a film for the first time in a very long while.
While viewing what he at first believes to be an E.M. Forster film,
he soon realizes that he is in the wrong theatre. Instead of Eternal
Moment, he has stumbled into the newest film by American
heartthrob Ronnie Bostock - Hotpants
College II. Try to imagine a Porky's
movie wrapped up in a social message. These are the kinds of movies
Ronnie Bostock makes.
This is the beginning of the end for Giles' literary seclusion, and
in almost an instant, his life is changed. His new found fixation on
all things Bostock is as funny as it is heartbreaking. He approaches
teen magazine scrap books, fan club information, and video rentals
with the same trepidation that any scared teen would feel sneaking
out of a book store with a nudie magazine. Eventually, his obsession
leads him to Long Island, where Ronnie lives with his girlfriend. It
is there that Giles decides he is going to do what he can for
Ronnie. He is going to help him become the actor he so desperately
wants to be.
The real joy in this movie is the subtle and winning performance of
John Hurt. The easy route would have been the "go for broke"
approach - to bring the role completely over the top and ham it up.
Instead, Hurt brings a level of sophistication to the role that
ordinarily would have been left out of it. By playing Ronnie, Jason
Priestly stretches his screen image past television teen-magnet...
well, almost. Sure, he's playing himself (sort of), playing Ronnie
Bostock. Which, in effect, is just about the same character he does
on Beverly Hills 90210, but
he's doing it in a different kind of movie. The way Ronnie feels
about playing these stock teen roles could very well be how most of
the brat-pack crowd feels about these exact roles. He knows his
talent, or what he's allowed to show of it, which is very limiting,
and he wants to play the parts that will win him big paychecks and
respect from the acting community.
This is a movie about adolescent obsession for an entirely
different, more grown-up audience, with adult humor that teen
audiences may not be distant enough from to completely understand.
Obsession is crushing, but it can be very humorous when you step
outside of yourself and examine it from a different point of view.
Watching this movie, I was reminded of the crushes I had when I was
a teenager, and I'm sure most people that see this movie will
remember them too and realize how awfully embarrassing it would be
to re-live them as an adult.
Universal chose to release Love and
Death on Long Island as a very basic disc. The film is
presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with a nice
anamorphic treatment. This picture looks nice, though I did notice
some edge enhancement and occasional color bleed. A mildly quiet and
non-invasive Dolby Surround track is included. The movie is pretty
high on dialogue and low on the sound effects end of things, so
there is little use of the surround speakers. But dialogue is always
clear and very easy to understand without having to adjust the
The extras are where Universal drops the ball. There's a trailer
and a chapter list, though anyone worth their weight in salt
wouldn't consider a chapter list a special feature. A commentary by
the director or any of the actors would have been welcome, as would
anamorphic enhancement of the film's theatrical trailer.
Universal has always been a big supporter of DVD and special
editions, so it's a little easier to cut them some slack when they
release a bare-bones disc. As DVD fans anywhere can attest, it's all
too easy to become accustomed to grand collector's editions and
forget about the days when VHS was the only realistic and attainable
option for home viewing of movies. If you're looking for extras, you
may just want to rent this disc, but it's worth the price of
purchase if you enjoyed the movie.