BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Oct 20th, 2009 •

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The first act of SURVEILLANCE feels like painfully second rate David Lynch. Bill Pullman (in David Lynch’s LOST HIGHWAY) appears perhaps as a nod, but he’s self-conscious and unconvincing, and Julia Ormond seems wasted. Stylistically it’s a TWIN PEAKS re-tread, and we’ve been there and done that.

However, miracles happen on celluloid (and digital) every day, and miraculously, act two flips completely around. It’s clever, profane, original, disturbing, sardonically amusing, and all the actors shine (Pell James is particularly amazing). Pullman and Ormand still drag their feet a little, but by act three they’re doing cartwheels like all the rest. A bad first act is hard to deal with, but if a viewer can get past it, a good third act is what they take away with them.

Ms. Lynch’s BOXING HELENA, despite the novel concept and titillating legal problems, was a disappointment. SURVEILLANCE is a vast improvement, particularly in the skilled way she handles actors – no easy task within the film’s crazy structure – and also the way the handles said structure. There are times when the degradation of the characters, and the consequent emotions produced, seemed to call for some nudity as well, and I suspect Ms. Lynch vetoed it. Or at least I suspected that until I listened to the commentary track.

“I’m Jen Lynch” she says, and then proceeds to be more like one of the guys than the guys, never letting an opportunity for a sexual comment slip by. On Julia Ormand, for instance, “That woman has an ass that all of us wish we had.” Listen to the commentary for the rest; it’s pretty wild. Two of the actors – Mac Miller and Charlie Newmark, take part in the talk, but they’re cowed into silence every time Jen makes one of her candid remarks.

And in the ‘making of’ featurette, which has a weird, fitting style, we see her at work. She’s built like a truck driver, and deals very easily and warmly with cast and crew. She loves what she’s doing, and I like what everyone says about her (Pullman in particular), and about the film.

The film, incidentally, is about some govt. agents (Pullman & Ormand) who drive into a small town to investigate some murders, interact with local cops who, as we follow their antics, are just short of being as vicious to passing motorists as the serial killers are. A pair of drug addicts are drawn into the mix, as is a little girl with a prescient sense of the real world. More than that will detract from your enjoyment.

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