DVD Reviews – September 2008

The Dali Dimension: Decoding The Mind Of A Genius
Street: 08.05
Anyone who enjoys art, be it modern, post modern, pop art, fauvism, or any other of the many "ism's" out there knows how much of an influence Salvador Dali has been on the world of art, but not many people know what a positive influence he has also made in the world of science. This DVD goes even deeper into the man's mind with interviews with close friends and acquaintances, accompanied by clips of Dali speaking about all the random thoughts that would leak from his mind onto the canvas. Most people thought he was just eccentric, but he was quite learned in science. In the interviews with scientists who had the privilege to meet and discuss things with Dali, it seems as if they are taken aback by his knowledge of new concepts and ideas in the scientific world. This is just one more example that art is the way to all understanding. –Adam Dorobiala

High Times Presents: The 20th Anniversary Cannabis Cup
MVD Visual
Street: 09.05
The Stoner Superbowl. Marijuana fantasy camp. It started 20 years ago with a dozen or so people gathering in Amsterdam to share their most recent strain of cannabis. Still held in Amsterdam, it has recently exploded into a five-day event celebrating one of the most talked about substances in the world. There are 3,000 judges and several thousand spectators who converge to experience the brotherhood of the bud. The movie explains the "pot-litics" of the event and how the bigger companies give out the most pot for free and in turn get the most votes. Luckily, there is somewhat of a check and balance system in the blind judging of the Seed Company Cup, in which a small group of the cup's organizers decide who has the best pot. This is the most coveted prize, and smaller companies often steal the win from the larger conglomerates. The judges vote in the categories of appearance, smell, taste and the high. They sit in a room and smoke continuously for 24 hours until there is a clear winner. Redman was there to perform, and did his best to out-smoke everyone (which he quite possibly did). In the end, the hype for this event is probably fueled more by the fact that this is one of the only places in the world where this kind of thing is possible. Nonetheless, it really is a Mecca that religious stoners should aspire to visit at least once in their lives. –Andrew Glassett

Iggy & the Stooges: Escaped Maniacs
MVD Visual
Street: 07.08
Close your eyes and you might be fooled into thinking this show is an early '70s Stooges set. The performance quality is as raw as ever – Iggy howling over the treble-heavy explosions and shrieks behind him. Open up your eyes and you see a few more pounds, minimal stage violence and even the replacement bassist, the legendary Mike Watt (who knows these songs by working for years with brothers Scott and Ron Asheton), looking old. Though admittedly a "for the money" show, you won't notice the bad blood just under the surface of this shaky reunion as the band tears through their compactyet- fabulous repertoire (minus "Search and Destroy," sadly). More interesting, however, is the hour-long, unedited interview with Pop by a nervous Tracy Landecker. An amiable Iggy discusses the early days, quotes Marshall McLuhan, dishes dirt on Velvet Goldmine producer Michael Stipe and stands up midway to pop his back, shout a curse word and ask "how much time do we have left?" Badass. –Dave Madden

Lower Class Brats: This is Real
TKO Records
Street: 07.22
This DVD is a far cry from what I expected. This is Real promises a glimpse into the life of a touring punk-rock band and that the film was 13-years in the making. Unfortunately, this "documentary" should be labeled as what it actually is: a concert DVD that features candid moments of band members between every song or two. All of the live footage appears to have been shot during the same show and the brief band interviews between songs are about what you could expect from four punk rock dudes. As far as a live concert DVD goes, it's not bad. The band plays many crowd favorites like "Safety Pinned and Sick," "Who Writes Your Rules" and "PSYCHO." Fortunately, the video footage and sound quality doesn't detract from the performance. The DVD comes with a bunch of extras and a CD that features a handful of demos. My favorite was a short excerpt from an actual documentary called Just Like Clockwork. Ultimately, this DVD isn't bad, but it's not as good as it makes itself out to be. (09.23 Avalon) –Jeanette Moses

Punk's Not Dead
Aberration Films and Red Rover Films
Street: 08.11
One of the most cliché phrases is "Punk's not dead." When uttered the majority of the time, it starts arguments of different social classes of punk: past, present and future (if there is a future, right?). After the first 10 minutes of Susan Dynner's documentary, it is evident that not only is she a talented filmmaker, but in many ways punk isn't dead and never will be. Sure, the underground isn't what is was in the early days, but so what? Through innumerable interviews and footage from an incalculable amount of people and bands, including but not limited to The Adicts, The Damned, UK Subs, Rancid, Social Distortion, Green Day, Minor Threat, Black Flag, and The Ramones, Dynner creates a journey from past to present and makes her audience a believer in the punk rock ethos of DIY and the true spirit of punk rock, regardless of who's bringing it. –Jeremy C. Wilkins

Facets Video
Street: 07.22
Holy shit! Why would anyone initially think that making a seven-and-a-halfhour film is a good idea? I don't think I'll ever gain the feeling back in my left ass cheek. Bela Tarr's Satantango ranks #20 on the all-time longest movies list (#1 is Zhang Shichuan's The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple at 27 hours in length). Based on László Krasznahorkai's novel – which you could probably read in the same amount of time it takes to watch the film – Satantango surveys the inhabitants of a small village as they are tricked into leaving their settlement by former locals who were once thought to be dead. Granted, the humdrum plot isn't what drives the strength of this film. The tone and cinematography make it stand out as a striking artistic achievement. There's a recent study on the average shot lengths (ASL ) in current films and how they continue to decline as the attention spans of young viewers dwindles – thanks, MTV . While several recent films have an ASL of 2-3 seconds, Tarr is known for shots lasting several minutes. Instead of attempting to register 20 images per minute, Tarr forces the viewer to register, analyze and remember one illustration at a time. It's an experience you won't soon forget. –Jimmy Martin

The Witman Boys
Facets Video
Street: 08.26
When I think of the pacing and dialogue of János Szász's The Witman Boys, the first words that come to mind are "monotonous" and "lethargic." However, there is much more than meets the eye in this 1997 tale of two boys coping with the loss of their father. Cinematographer Tibor Máthé captures an eerily elegant turn-of-the-century Hungary with a significant use of firelight and natural resources, which in turn creates the greatest reason for viewing the film. While witnessing the disturbing actions of János (Alpár Fogarasi) and Ernö (Szabolcs Gergely), one may question what their own reaction would be to the death of a parent. Would you sit in a ball and cry? Murder defenseless animals in your attic? Make out with prostitutes at the local brothel? In the case of the Witmans, it's a big "yes"...well, minus the crying like a bitch part. Szász's film blends the worlds of childhood simplicity and adult wisdom through the eyes of adolescents who walk a fine line between both. –Jimmy Martin

The Work Series: Musician
Street: 2007
Long before Michael Moore made documentary films by taking an oversized check into a corporate headquarters to protest wages, documentaries looked more like this one—slow, honest and without many voice-overs. Though many prefer the MTV-style of documentary filmmaking, there's something to be said about a film with a story compelling enough to be told without bells or whistles. Part of a series about people and their jobs, Musician follows Ken Vandermark, a man who makes his living playing avant-garde improv jazz. And while this seems a little thin on the surface, the hour-long film is fascinating. We are shown how many ensembles Vandermark records with, how many deplorable club dates and tours he has to do and how much time he has to spend practicing to remain on the top of his game. The film can be hard to watch, as it strips away the mystique that surrounds a career in music. But at the same time, it is mesmerizing, as we are shown how hard someone has to work if they want to earn a living doing what they enjoy. It is entertaining and empowering, spectacular and mundane, amusing and redemptive. This movie is required viewing for those wanting a career in music. –James Bennett