THE FALL AND RISE OF REGINALD PERRIN
by Matt Rose
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STUDIO: E1 Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 630 Minutes
The Very Best of Leonard Rossiter
The Reginald Perrin Christmas Special Sketch
Office Space meshed with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as done by a middle aged Brit in the 1970s.
Starring Leonard Rossiter (Hey, it’s the Russian guy from 2001: A Space Odyssey!), Geoffrey Palmer (A Fish Called Wanda), Pauline Yates.
A mid-70s BBC comedy series that ran for 3 seasons/21 episodes which followed an Englishman struggling to find a purpose in his incredibly dull life.
Based upon the novel ‘The Death of Reginald Perrin’ by David Nobbs, the show follows Reginald I. Perrin, a bored sales executive for Sunshine Desserts. He’s a very likeable guy, but he’s getting irritated with all of the constant repetition in his life: his wife says the same goodbye phrases every day as he heads off to work, his underlings exclaim their own personal buzzwords (GREAT! SUPER!) whenever they can, his boss is always inserting the same ‘I didn’t get where I am today’ phrase in almost every sentence, his train is always 11 minutes late…you get the idea. He escapes the tedium of his existence by daydreaming ala Walter Mitty (he frequently dreams of banging Joan, his secretary), but these dreams are only momentary interludes in a very dull existence. He’s in a rut and can’t take it anymore.
Reggie’s long-standing dream of banging his secretary. On a desk. In a field.
As the show starts out, he’s just starting to lose his patience with life. He gets more and more reckless with his relationships at work and at home in an attempt to stir things up a bit, usually with genuinely funny results. Unsatisfied, he makes more drastic changes over the course of the show’s run: faking his death, opening a joke company that sells useless crap, and starting a commune. By the end, he’s pretty much right back where he started with new underlings (MARVELOUS! TERRIFIC!) and the same issues.
Unfortunately, Reggie is pretty much the only real character that develops on the show; everyone else is a one dimensional foil for him to play off of (the stupid boss, the horny secretary, the banal son-in-law), and they all remain relatively unchanged over the course of the series. Leonard Rossiter is funny, often hysterically so, but the show rises and falls on the material that he has to work with, and some of it is occasionally below par. When it works, which is usually the case, it’s a scream. Certain episodes and story arcs on this show are genuinely very funny: the second season arc involving Grot, his store that he opens up as a joke against British society, is particularly strong.
Like all BBC shows from the 1970s, this was shot on video with some film inserts. The transfer is as good as can be expected for the low production budgets of the time.
Leonard has just discovered that he will be replaced by Richard Mulligan in a few years.
An American version of the show was ‘attempted’ in the early 1980s with Richard Mulligan in the lead role. ‘Reggie’, as it was called, was TERRIBLE (I remember it well, unfortunately). Thankfully, it was canceled after only a few episodes. A new BBC version aired earlier this year with Martin Clunes in the title role.
It comes in a nicely made 4 DVD slipcase that is fairly unremarkable. Bonus features include ‘The Very Best of Leonard Rossiter’ (a highlight reel featuring some newer interviews of some of the cast members) and the ‘Reginald Perrin Christmas Special Sketch’, a totally forgettable one-off that should be ignored if at all possible.
by Erik Antoine
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STUDIO: Peace Arch Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
Behind the Scenes Documentary
Director and Writer Commentary
You get to hear Superman say the word “fuck” and he has sex. But you don’t see him naked. Oh, and open relationships are DANGEROUS.
Director: John Stewart Muller
Cast: Brandon Routh (Zach And Miri Make A Porno), Steve Sandvoss (Rumor Has It…), Courtney Ford (TV’s Dexter), Shoshana Bush (Dance Flick)
Mason (Sandvoss) and Samantha (Ford) are twenty-somethings in an open relationship. At Samantha’s sister’s wedding, they each hook up with other people. He with his best friend’s little sister (Bush) and she with an old college flame named James (Routh). This eventually leads to complications for all involved.
As it would in REAL LIFE.
First things first. Fling is not a bad movie. It’s not a particularly great one either but I think fair is fair and I wanted to make that clear. The film opens, much like The Godfather, with a wedding ceremony wherein we meet all the central characters. This was infuriating to watch because I found myself so completely uninterested in any of this from the very beginning. But then, once the wedding was over and I settled down and let the movie sink in, I was almost engaged. At many points, I found myself wanting to embrace it…. Wanting to be riveted, moved, shocked … Basically all the things that first time director and co-writer John Stewart Muller expects of me while watching his film.
I couldn’t really. But I made an effort and I think I deserve at least a cookie for that. The movie doesn’t ask much of you. It’s an easily relatable story, I suppose. These are successful or up-and-coming twenty-somethings living their lives and suffering the trials we all go through while navigating the complex waters of a modern relationship.
Well… No. Not really. I don’t know. I just think that, on a basic level, I had a hard time relating to any of these assholes. But maybe that’s a personal problem because the performances are certainly fine. Most of them. This is the third film I’ve seen Brandon Routh in, and he is certainly revealing that there is more to him as an actor than the stiff-as-a-morning-boner performance he gave in Superman Returns would have you believe. In the sense that he can actually be somewhat charismatic and deliver credible lines of dialog in a believable way. He also reveals that he has decided to be the new Christopher Reeve. Why not? I look like him. I may as well talk and act like him too!
But that’s ok. As he was one of the producers on this thing, I have to give him props for trying as hard as he can to make us forget he was in that boring Superman movie of a couple of years ago. Much like Christopher Reeve tried to tell us all he was a versatile actor when he followed Superman II with Deathtrap.
But I digress. Routh does a good job playing the moral compass of this complicated open relationship. That is to say, the one that is supposed to stand in for the audience and be opposed or shocked at the frivolous proceedings. But, really, apart from Routh’s character, these people seem a bit forced to me. I know people like this exist. I just don’t see how I can identify or sympathize with them. Which is not to say I’m going to get all moralistic about open relationships. I’ve been in one or two myself. Who am I to moralize? But there is a shallowness to the characters played by Sandvoss and Ford that I couldn’t quite connect with.
And it doesn’t help that Mason is ostensibly the main character (or at least the one with the central “life changing” arc) and he is just not that strong. He’s supposed to be an up-and-coming writer. But Sandvoss portrays him as such a marshmellow-mouthed fratboy swinger that it’s very difficult to grasp how this guy can even read, let alone write, a whole novel. And then, there is a scene where you get to see him at a bookstore – surrounded by beautiful women – reading from his first book, a supposedly controversial romance novel called A Year And A Day, and it goes like this:
And she thought as me. And I thought as her. And she and I asked, with hungry eyes, “Maybe…?” And the other girl asked, would I say ‘maybe my sunflower’? And I put my arms around her and the other; and pulled them close to me so I could feel their thighs all moist, maybe. And their breasts were heaving like mad. And, “Maybe…” I said, “Maybe I will… Maybe.”
So… Okay. He’s a writer. But that doesn’t sound like something I would ever want to kick back on a beach and read. So he’s not my kind of writer and maybe that’s why I had a hard time relating to him or his plight.
The rest of the performances are more credible. Courtney Ford does a good job as a woman growing increasingly restless at her own promiscuity. And Shoshana Bush is convincing as a ditz. She has this Michelle Williams look and attitude to her that helps with the role. And she shares an effective scene with Ford where they know what’s going on without having to voice it explicitly.
It is in these sorts of moments that you realize the movie is really trying hard for something and is just falling short. The screenplay attempts for a true-to-life approach in the dialog and visual aesthetic; and there are moments, such as a game of Texas Hold ‘Em that degenerates into an evening of awkwardness, that make you wish the whole movie had managed to work as well. I enjoy seeing filmmakers go for that raw Cassavettes humanism and wish more would attempt it. But this movie is an illustration of just how hard it is to pull that off.
Another thing… You wonder if the film is being objective about open relationships at first. But it becomes increasingly clear, as the narrative progresses, that the filmmakers have a point to make. Their point being: THIS IS WRONG. It is a point hammered home with all the subtlety of a broomstick to the asshole. And I have a problem with that as well. I prefer my character observations to be a little bit more ambiguous. When it comes to this sort of thing, I think it’s much more interesting if I’m not told how to feel.
But far be it from me to tell a filmmaker how to butter his pancakes. If it works for them, I guess it should work for us as well. The movie has the look of quality. Shot in Panavision, with that hand-held style that has become the cliché of indie cinema. And the soundtrack – with original music by Nick Urata and a selection of perfectly acceptable shoe-gazing indie rock – is similarly clichéd but effective.
You get a nice, well-intentioned package. And as everyone looks at you with eyes beaming, eager to please, you can only smile appreciatively and say: “Nice try…… Maybe.”
Now, give me my cookie.
Considering the relatively low profile of the film, this is a pretty loaded disc. You get a commentary track featuring director Muller, co-writer/co-producer Laura Boersma and cinematographer Frederick Schroeder. Their tone is genial and they spend the entire running time talking about the production and telling a handful of entertaining anecdotes. If you enjoy the movie, I could think of worse commentary tracks.
There is also a Behind The Scenes documentary that I can only describe as … cute. Prepared by two film students from Kansas City University (the film was shot in KC), it runs about 15 minutes and covers – very superficially – various aspects of the shoot. The tone of the doc is weird. It feels like a special on Nick Jr. Lisa & Jenna Visit The Set Of Lazy Town The Movie (or whatever).
To complement the BTS, there is a feature called Video Vignettes. These look like webisodes and boil down to the cast talking about their characters and the story of the film. The three vignettes strung together run about 5 minutes in length.
Rounding out the package are several Deleted Scenes, including an alternate opening. The quality of the scenes varies. It’s clear some were actually a part of the film at some point (they are presented in anamorphic widescreen and are color corrected and scored), whereas others are definitely just outtakes. Considering the movie feels pretty heavy at just under 100 minutes, I think it’s safe to say it was wise to omit these scenes.
The Theatrical Trailer for the film is interesting… The movie was sold as kind of a bouncy picture, to complement the “new” title of Fling (the film was originally called Lie To Me – and this is still the international title). The movie definitely takes itself more seriously than the trailer would suggest.
And, finally, a digital copy is included right there on the disc. So you can watch Superman bone his real life wife on your PC.
One weird thing… Listed as a “Special Feature” is Musical Score By Grammy-Nominated Composer Nick Urata. … But there is no feature that allows you to hear the score isolated from the film – so I have no idea what the fuck they’re on about.
by Erik Antoine
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STUDIO: Cinevolve Studios
RUNNING TIME: 97 Minutes
Behind the Scenes Featurette
“The Line” Animation
Filmmaker Video Blog
An Australian David Ayer movie.
Director: Michael Adante
Cast: Andy McPhee, David Barry, Craig Fong, David Bradshaw, Peter Phelps
After the killing of an Asian gang member, detective James Jewel (Barry) teams up with live wire undercover cop Mike Calis (McPhee) to uncover the truth behind this killing. Their investigation leads them deep into a maze of corruption when they find that there is more to this killing than it seems.
I think I’m getting tired of these movies. Let’s face it, police corruption thrillers are a dime a dozen these days. We have a new one coming out in a few months with Richard Gere. Recently, we had Street Kings & Pride And Glory. So I have to say that there was no novelty for me in seeing an Australian cop thriller that tries to play like Training Day crossed with Serpico and directed by Tony Scott.
I’m exaggerating… But it’s clear that writer-director Michael Adante is going for a certain look and texture to his film – all sorts of sharp, saturated imagery. Quick flashes… A moody musical score that relies often on piercing guitar licks and somber synth tones. Like Jerry Bruckheimer producing Narc.
But any sense of style is not enough to cover up the fact that this is an all too familiar story for anyone who’s sat through one of these movies before. The fact that it takes place in Australia might be of interest only to Australians. Because this might as well be Los Angeles or Chicago or Boston. The film opens with infuriatingly hard to read credits backed by a cheesy hip hop song. So, before it even begins, I have been clued in to the fact that I’m about to watch a particularly specific slice of The Derivative Pie.
In the lead roles, McPhee and Barry are quite good. And they’d better be. Because you spend the better part of 90 minutes squarely in their company, since the camera literally follows them around. As they drive around the city… As they go question suspects… As they sit in their car and argue about the line.
The title refers to the blurry line between a cop and a criminal… And how often that line is crossed. What an astonishingly original notion!
Anyway, the leads are good. McPhee, in particular, is a real stand-out. With a great face, a bulldog-like smile and a gruff, tough guy persona, he recalls the great Hollywood tough guys like Mitchum. If you decide to see this movie, I’d say it’s almost worth it to watch the man work.
Aside from that, though, the movie really is about as interesting as watching a siamese cat take a piss. I found myself ready and willing to nod off at several instances, while the repetitive plot chugged through the motions… What kept me awake and somewhat riveted was the fact that I really had to focus. Because there are times that these gentlemen and their accents become quite indecipherable if you’re not careful. Certainly not as bad as drunken Scots arguing about football, but it has its moments. And it doesn’t help that the DVD has no close-captioning or subtitles to speak of. So I had to really pay attention.
I had to pay attention as they questioned people using unorthodox methods. I had to pay attention as the young, newly appointed detective recalled the first time he ever killed a suspect. I had to pay attention as the depth of this corruption is revealed and we are asked to be surprised with the identity of the person behind it all. Let me remind you, this is the police force… Who would be the most shocking person to be behind it all? … Okay. That’s who it is.
I will say this… The reason behind the killings and the motivation behind the corruption, if not entirely original, certainly are presented in a way that was fresh to me. The bad apple who reveals all this during an interminable monologue really pulls out all the stops. So that was good. The “punchline” to his monologue also had me fall out of my chair laughing.
So, that… Andy McPhee… Oh, and one of the most awkwardly staged and hilariously acted comeuppances I’ve seen. (I won’t say who it is, but it comes towards the end). I will say this, my friends – it’s not a good idea to stage a climactic face off inside a cramped car. Unless you’re Takeshi Kitano. … But, let’s face it, you’re fucking NOT.
Though you’ll get points for trying to be interesting, at least.
The DVD case makes a point of highlighting the fact that this movie participated in a bunch of festivals. Which is supposed to give the impression that this is more than just an Australian Training Day. Only not as good.
Don’t fall for it.
There is one relatively interesting feature referred to as a Behind The Scenes Featurette. But that’s a deceptive title because it’s a little richer than that. It’s a 40-minute home movie that takes you through the entire film from the table readings through the shoot – to the post production and scoring. Kind of like a bargain basement version of the terrific That Moment… documentary included in the Magnolia DVD package. The people behind this clearly put a lot of effort into their gritty cop thriller. Too bad the movie is not as interesting.
There is a Filmmaker Video Blog. And this made me laugh… Because, in the first one, Michael Adante announces: This video blog will take you on a journey of the film’s production… And then there is only one more blog where he complains about something to do with the production company. … And there are no more blogs, The whole thing runs 5 minutes.
The other feature is a weird thing called The Line Animation. What this is is some awful CGI of a Police Shield. I have no idea what the intention was. Maybe they intended this to have a more spectacular opening credits sequence… Then they saw that their complex animation looked like a cow’s ass and abandoned the concept – I’m not sure.
The rest is superfluous stuff like a Filmmaker Bio that’s hard to read, an “Image Gallery” full of boring shots from the film and a Trailer that doesn’t do a particularly good shot of selling the picture. Particularly since it includes a shot of David Barry running down an alley after a suspect, in slow motion, screaming Noooooo!!!!… Literally the worst shot in the entire film.
Rounding out the package is like 13 minutes of trailers for other Cinevolve Studios releases. None of them looked as derivative and uninteresting as The Line.
REVENGE OF THE BOARDING SCHOOL DROPOUTS
by Spike Marshall
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STUDIO: E1 Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 630 Minutes
The Very Best of Leonard Rossiter
The Reginald Perrin Christmas Special Sketch
Assorted douchebags hurtle down a mountain attached in the pursuit of glory, we pray for the breakage of limbs.
Tom Green, Dave England, Jason Bothe, Carlo Marks, Amber Borycki, Alain Chanoine
Max and Eddy (Dave England and Jason Bothe) are business partners, although the nature of this business is only briefly alluded to. It somehow has to do with the insane snowboarding talents of one of their pupils. This confusion of course is just one side effect of the dreaded sequelitis, and I assume if you’d watch the 2008 prequel Shred you’d probably have a better understanding of their journey. You’d also probably care.
The opening with Max and Eddy being helicoptered to the top of a mountain to bask in the radiance of the Canadian scenery should be a ‘King of the World moment. As it is Bothe and England are so uncharismatic and their entrance so dripping with douchebaggery that you kind of hope they fall off the mountain and die horribly. Compared to the ‘talent’ they’ve cultivated however England and Bothe are dynamic, awe inspiring performers.
Presumably the trio of rising stars that accompany Max and Eddy are members of the snowboarding school which is vaguely mentioned throughout the film but has no real basis on the plot. Presumably they also went through some kind of narrative arc because by the time we meet them they’re soulless husks of people, inert, powerless and utterly loathable. The three rising stars come in three flavours; one is apparently the Jesus of Snowboarding a teetotal, dweeb of a man with apparent all encompassing skills on a board (although this is never really shown off in the film itself), one is a lady snowboarded who serves no function other than to have breasts, tut contemptuously, and be harassed,and the final member of the trio is a black snowboarder written with all of the racial sensitivity of Gears of Wars COLETRAIN. Whilst their is some amusement to be found from watching a black actor trying to deliver ‘black’ dialogue written by geeky white boys these three are perhaps the least amusing elements of any comedy ever. In fact I’m pretty sure Adam Sandler’s cancer in Funny People is funnier than the three of them combined.
As Chris mulled over the offer Kinglsey worked out just how long he had until the ‘To Catch A Predator’ team caught up with.
In opposition to Max, Eddy and their trained vacuum’s of personality is Kingsley (played by Tom Green looking like an impoverished paedophile) who in his five minutes of screen time never really does anything all that villainous. In general terms he barely registers a 2.0 on the William Atherton scale of cinematic bastardry. In theory the sheer horribleness of the main cast should make Tom Green’s job easier, but he just is sort of their representing ‘the man’ or something. The main plot is essentially about Max and Eddy trying to merchandise their star performer, the aforementioned Jesus of snowboarding, Chris via the medium of poorly shot promotional videos and some kind of tournament which no one seems all that interested in winning. There is no real momentum to the plot because the plot doesn’t really exist, it’s just a series of moments linked by the most tenuous of narrative strands. In theory the film is built around the camardaerie of the central performers, but aside from England and Bothe none of the stars seem to like each other all that much.
Interspersed amongst this comedic wasteland is 2nd Unit Footage of snowboarding which actually looks impressive, or at the very least crisp, compared to the flat style the rest of the film employs. I’m sure if you’re a fan of snowboarding you might get some more mileage out of the footage, even if the pop-punk accompanying EVERY SINGLE SHOT OF SNOWBOARDING is insidious and unrelenting, but if this was a favourite sport of mine I’d demand representation.
It was only when covered in bile and vomit that Dave England felt like he was really making a movie.
What’s bizarre about the film is that it has the capacity for real dramatic weight, a scene halfway through in which Max lies broken on his floor, covered in puke and being rebuked by his girlfriend about his frivolous stupidity feels like a scene from a real, grown up movie, but it’s content to be just be middling, and dull and forgettable.
The only features on the disc are a digital copy of the film, and it’s prequel Shred, and a trailer for the aforementioned Shred. Which is nice if you’re really, really, interested in unravelling the the mythical backstory of the film.