Be Kind Rewind
Now I'm not a great fan of either Jack Black or Mos Def, but there was lot's more to attract me to the film, and I was surprised by both the film and the DVD offering.
While he's left in charge his crazy friend appears and has a plan to raid the electricity station next door to his caravan and shut it down, however something happens, and the electricity has a profound affect on him. When he next appears in the store he seems to have a strange magnetism about him, one that wipes all the videotapes around him.
Now they're in trouble. Looking after the store they've destroyed all the stock. So in a panic they decide to recreate the films being rented, and in their own shortened style. Amazingly the customers love them, and they're asked for more.
The story is good, it's a great idea, and from Michael Gondry who brought us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind you know it's going to be a bizarre but cleverly delivered idea. Well that's what you think, but it isn't as great as you might think, and there's a lot that falls short of expectation.
The story felt a little jumpy as, when it got going, it felt as though it raced from remade film to remade film, or sweded film as the director would have. It did feel as though the film was really there to showcase the remake moments, and it did showcase them well, however it was to the detriment of the rest of the film which didn't flow so well.
That said some of the sweded moments were really enjoyable, and seeing the montage sequence seemingly filmed in real time was the best of the bunch.
Throughout the film we are shown a small sub plot of the story of the legendary Fats Waller, and the local yarns that tell of how he was born and brought up in the town. This sub plot was mixed in well and perhaps was one of the strongest parts of the film. I really liked the way that the film referenced the story all the way through and then returned to the clips at the end to make the story all about it.
What was best about the ending was the reveal of how much of the Fats film was made by the locals, and indeed by the production crew. Seeing it come together as one film was a satisfying conclusion to what had come before, broken up amongst the rest of the plot.
Danny Glover, for me, was the best in the film. His character didn't have a lot of screen time or a lot to deliver, but he was the most real, believable and fleshed out. Mos Def and Jack Black felt as though they were just moving from scene to scene and reacting to everything around them, and in a way this felt like much of the film had been lazily improvised without a great deal of effort. Yet it was Glover's character that delivered the most story and progression and connected most with me.
The very end of the film felt rather twee and overly emotional. Yes it was the way the story should have ended and it was enjoyable, but it was the obvious Hollywood way out providing the usual "everything's going to be alright" answer, with a caveat of eventually, after the film ends.
DTS HD 5.1, DD 5.1
There's hardly any of use of the speakers, and really there's no need since most of the film is about characters interacting with each other, hand held filming or home made films being played. I didn't really find this a problem as the film wasn't really conducive to surround sound speakers and we could really have done without the DTS HD and DD audio tracks.
The picture was good, but remember this is Blu-ray and we should be seeing the definition shining through, to me that wasn't very apparent and it was only during some key wide shots of the city that we saw the breath taking definition of Blu-ray even begin to be hinted at. For the rest of the film, much of which seems to have been filmed on handheld, the picture was very good but you could have been mistaken for forgetting it was high definition.
A really good featurette makes up part of the extra offerings on the disc. It looks behind some of the different swedes of the film and the different styles used throughout. It's particularly good when we come to the swede montage and we see some of the behind the scenes during that sequence. There's some more insight provided by talking to those in front of and behind the camera and revealing more of the production. The featurette provides for enjoyable and engaging watching.
Fats Was Born Here
We get to see the complete community made film as part of the extras on the DVD, showing the film from start to finish. It provides a great addition to the story, especially after we've watched all the short clips throughout the film, and it's much longer than you might think and are led to believe by the sequence at the end of the actual film.
An interesting aspect of the film is that it was actually made in a community that mirrored the storyline, run down and struggling due to the complete collapse of the once thriving local industry. This feature looks into the community where it was filmed and talks to real people from the town talking about its history, revealing the hard times that they've been living through, and also about what the film has done for the community.
Booker T. and Michael Gondry
The film shows the scene where Danny Glover acted next to some legendary names in blues, and how Michael Gondry played with some of them, including Booker T. to make some of the music for the soundtrack. For those who would have found this interesting I think it's all too short and superficial. It would have been more interesting to have them talking about the film and have more of the recording set.
Jack Black and Mos Def Improvised Theme Songs
I was surprised how dull this extra was. Starting it I was convinced that it was going to have some hilarious moments and tunes as the two stars played off of each other to create some of the sweded theme tunes for their films. However it isn't that funny or interesting, and becomes a little laborious as you feel you're looking over someone's shoulder at a private conversation.
Conversation with Jack Black and Michael Gondry
Talking of extras that don't work this is another one of them. It's clear that Jack Black and Michael Gondry are on completely different wavelengths, a lot to do with the language barrier as well, and they struggle to understand each other or to connect. To be fair Black makes a good attempt, but the whole piece is weird, off the wall, stilted and too short.
Compared to Michael Gondry's last film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this falls firmly in its shadow and doesn't hold up at all well with that excellent film.
However it does have its moments and is enjoyable to watch, if not totally engaging. It lost my attention a number of times and I didn't feel that this was a cohesive film that flowed well. Characters failed to draw me in, and too little was made of the one character and his situation that really could, Glover and his character's fight to keep and update his store in a modern market.
The sweded moments were good, and with some of the added extras provided for their own entertainment, but these didn't seem explored enough and felt a little dropped into the story.
The Blu-ray offering is good, but could probably just have easily been on a standard DVD.
Good, but not great.