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Monday Blu(e)s and DVD

It’s a bit of a flat week for Blu-ray and DVD releases, especially in the light of last weeks fantastic roster. As always though there are a couple of genuine gems out there today.

Please feel free to use the comments section below to let us know if we’ve missed anything. Monday Blu(e)s and DVD’s is produced in association with Film@Home, the British Video Association’s digital hub for the promotion of Blu-ray. More information on Film@Home can be found on their Facebook page.

Disc Of The Week

The Conformist – For our money this remains Bernardo Bertolucci’s finest film. An able package from Arrow’s Academy imprint means that this is the best the film has ever looked on home video.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – We were surprised by just how impressed we found ourselves by Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold when presented with it as the opening film of last years DocFest. A playful documentary with a serious message at the heart of it, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold quite clearly fits the niche levelled out by the directors breakthrough work, Super-Size Me. Full review here.

Jack Goes Boating – Somehow Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut evaded us on numerous occasions last year, both at festivals and upon its very limited theatrical release. We hope to rectify that with this DVD release.

We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsy’s first film in nine years was amongst our greatest disappointments of 2011. Full review here.

Sleeping Beauty – An intriguing title let down by a horrendously ill-judged marketing campaign. The sort of thing that puts the “cunt” in erm, marcunting, the whole sorry saga can be seen over at Ultraculture.

Running On Empty – Another week, another obscure Australian cult drama. As with last weeks Malcolm we know very little of Running On Empty, but the premise (street racing in Australia in the early 1980’s) coupled with the artwork intrigues aplenty.

DocFest 2011: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Morgan Spurlock, the pop-culture literate director of multiplex crossover doc success stories Super Size Me and Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden? found inspiration in the most unlikely of places for his latest work. In order to realise his self-professed “DocBuster”, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Spurlock looked to Iron Man, the $100 million-plus blockbuster from Marvel Studios. In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, or to give it its full title, POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock set to combine the funding politics of mainstream Hollywood with the production of his latest documentary, in turn creating an entertaining and informative movie along the way.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold attempts to place in to context just how powerful the marketing industry is within the film industry. It’s basically an exploration of the world of product placement, with Spurlock attempting to raise the entire $1.5 million dollar budget of his film through product placement alone. Initially playing up to the ridiculous nature of the whole situation, a number of things become clear once funding is in place, namely that of creative control.

A number of inadvertent rules come with each product Spurlock signs on to the films, so, for example, he can only drink certain liquids, thanks to his deal with a pomegranete juice company, he must use certain gas stations thanks to his agreement with a gas company, and he can only drive Mini Coopers, thanks to his deal with the car company. It makes for an interesting commentary on creative freedom, and eventual becomes, in the words of one commentator, “evidence of how fucked up marketing is”. In a similar way to how Super Size Me begat, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold starts out as a joke, but turns serious once an axis point is reached.

As Spurlock is keen to point out at several occasions within the film, there is no predetermined plot as such. The movie is built largely out of his interactions throughout the journey he makes, and from the resulting stipulations of said meetings. Along the way we learn about things like “Faction”, a wonderfully jingoistic marketing term/legal loophole that somehow manages to define the area where “Fact” and “Fiction” cross paths, and come across items as bizarre and brilliant as Mane & Tail, a brand of shampoo aimed at the no doubt booming market of the hair product that can be used by both human and equine.

A couple of canny company executives buy into Spurlock’s concept of ensuring that The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is the first documentary with tie-in reusable gas station cups, in turn becoming wonderful characters, as is one particular lawyer, whose Spurlock’s encounter with results in further sponsorship  for the film. The slow reveal of this particular scene makes for genuinely great cinema.

Also along the way we are met with sights as alien as the city of Sao Paulo, which has quite literally banned outside advertisements. Classing adverts as “visual pollution”, the local council saw fit to remove any trace of their presence, resulting in a world barely recognisable from the streets that fill the rest of the film.Filmmakers such as J.J Abrams, Peter Berg, Brett Ratner and Quentin Tarantino pop up too, discussing the lengths to which advertising and product placement effects their working practices. It’s an interesting insight, with a subject which might be written off as dull by some brought to life by Spurlock’s 100 mile-a-minute enthusiasm.

The terrifying notion that one day (soon) marketers may be more powerful than the creative forces behind a film is raised, with the power of product placement made all the more apparent as the film comes to a close. Worryingly, the sight of Spurlock getting into a Mini soon becomes the norm, and we, the viewer, no longer question it, we just accept it, or don’t even notice it. Perhaps even more worrying is just how exciting it is to see everything come together at the end. We, just like every audience to any advert, are being manipulated. Hell, even this review plays in to the grand plan, with the relatively meagre amount of impressions garnered by the exposure me writing about the film fitting in to the overall marketing arc in one way or another. As he before showed us with fast-food and American foreign policy, Spurlock once again exposes an area of seemingly normal society that is indeed a terrifying place.

A Preview Of DocFest 2011

 

From tomorrow Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second will be coming to you live and direct from this years Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival (DocFest for short). A huge number of documentaries will be screening in the city over the next five days, with 79 features and 28 shorts filling the relatively short space of time.

Of course, the joy of a festival like DocFest is in as much of the discovery of new works as it is of pre-determined plans, but here’s a couple of films we’re really looking forward to anyway.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Morgan Spurlock, the brains behind the hugely successful documentary multi-plex crossover hit Supersize Me turns his attention towards the murky area of product placement in film and television. Sure to be something of a crowd pleaser, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is the festivals opening night film.

The Hollywood Complex

Dan Sturman and Dylan Nelson’s charts one television pilot season in the life of the Oakwood apartment complex, Los Angeles. The unassuming apartment complex houses wannabe actors, each hoping to bag a role on network television.

Gun Fight

Double Oscar winner Barbara Kopple takes a fresh look at the gun laws of the United States, almost a decade after Michael Moore tackled the subject with Bowling For Columbine.

Albert Maysles Retrospective

One half of the legendary Maysles brothers documentary filmmaking dynasty, Albert Maysles will be in attendance at this years DocFest. Screenings feature Salesman, Muhammad & Larry and Grey Gardens amongst others.

A Letter To Elia

Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones present a work exploring the life and career of controversial filmmaker Elia Kazan. Promising to be as personal a journey as Scorsese’s earlier forays in to documenting the cinema, A Letter To Elia is possibly the film we’re most looking forward to seeing.

Stay tuned to Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second for updates and reaction throughout the festival.