Reviews for region 1 discs From Ultimate DVD #15

What Lies Beneath
Cecil B. Demented

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WHAT LIES BENEATH Rated: PG-13
On the surface, a modern-day spooky Hitchcockian thriller, but underneath...

The Movie

Approach What Lies Beneath with no knowledge of the narrative, and you are guaranteed one half of a brilliant movie. More specifically: the first half. The skill of writer Clark Gregg and director Zemeckis lies in the art of suggestion, ensuring for the first hour we have no idea what this film is about – except that it’s darkly foreboding. The focus is on blissfully happy couple Norman Spencer (Ford) and his wife Clare (Pfeiffer), whose daughter has left for college, and whose neighbours seem to have marital problems. Then Clare’s life begins to fall apart when she sees the ghostly image of a drowned girl…

A stunning sound tapestry which accentuates every minor nuance, Alan Silvestri’s eerie score and Zemeckis’s close-up camerawork initially combine to create a claustrophobic chiller that’s hard to watch in the dark. Yet as the layers of the story unravel, so it falls apart, and a melodramatic twist mid-point destroys the potency irrevocably. It’s obvious that the director is attempting a homage to Hitchcock, and while he does succeed in making the bathtub seem just as scary as the shower, there’s still a nagging sense that this 3 stars - Worth A Watchhas all been done before.

The Extras

Oh dear, they say the ‘H’ word. As Zemeckis and his producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke settle down to a curiously awkward commentary, the director makes clear his intent to attempt a Hitchcock style thriller. Somehow, we’d guessed that. It’s slow to start but their discourse heats up, and later chapters feature a debate on the future of film-making with the advent of digital technology, the difficulties in protecting the “final act twist” and their curiosity as to whether What Lies Beneath will survive the test of time. This reviewer suspects not.

HBO’s Constructing a Thriller offers a change to the normal featurette; it lasts 15 minutes, but the first 10 look back over the director’s career, with on-set footage from hits like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Contact, plus comments from Michael J Fox, Tom Hanks and Jodie Foster. Green screen work for What Lies Beneath breaks a few trade secrets, but once again they say that ‘H’ word.

Production notes are over 14 pages and are poorly compiled, but the Cast and Film-Makers section covers 14 contributors in impressive detail, even listing TV episodes. The scary-clip menus are fun, but the theatrical trailer is best avoided – yup, it reveals part of that “final act twist”. 3 stars - Worth A WatchHooray for Hollywood.

Credits
What Lies Beneath DVD

Cast
Harrison Ford
Michelle Pfeiffer
Director • Robert Zemeckis
Year • 2000
Duration • 140mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Chapters • 24
Languages • English
Subtitles • English
Release Date •
January 30
Distributor •
Dreamworks

 
 
 
 

Highlight

Chapter 6 –
Spying on Mr Feur

Clare uses binoculars to observe her neighbour at night. And then he notices her… It’s a masterful moment of suspense.

 
 
 

David Richardson

From Ultimate DVD #15

CECIL B. DEMENTED Rated: R

The Movie

At the gala première of her new movie Some Kind of Happiness, top Hollywood actress Honey Whitlock is kidnapped by a group of cinema terrorists. Once safely detained within the confines of their battered exploitation movie lair, she is coaxed into performing for a new film, under the maniacal direction of the greatest independent film director in the world – Cecil B Demented.

Sound like a plot from a terrible exploitation B-Movie? Well, of course, it does, this is a John Waters film! There’s dark humour, a mixture of overtly sexual and frightfully frigid characters, ego-maniacs, outlandish costume design and, most of all, the Baltimore landscape on which Waters can paint, well, whatever the hell he damn well likes. As a message to Hollywood studios this half works, as the band of misfits gatecrash a showing of Patch Adams: The Director’s Cut, and take over the shooting of Gump Again: Forrest Gump 2. But that’s where it stops, getting lost in a sea of ludicrous escapades.

The cast are superb, the soundtrack is hauntingly delicious but the script just lets the side down too 3 stars - Worth A Watchmuch to be classic Waters.

The Extras

What more could you want from a Waters DVD than a commentary from the man himself? As quintessentially weird as the film, the eccentric director gasses on about the little touches and in-jokes he’s hidden away in his latest piece. It may not do for budding film-makers, but it’s a fascinating listen.

Aside from that, you get the usual featurette, this time hosted by Comedy Central which comes with cast and crew interviews, although suspiciously Miss Griffith is nowhere in sight. Trailers, cast and crew info and production notes are also evident on this nicely hosted DVD which begins with a menu screen of Some Kind of Happiness before being gunned 3 stars - Worth A Watchdown for the real one.

Grant Kempster

Credits
Cecil B. Demented DVD

Cast
Melanie Griffith
Stephen Dorff
Alicia Witt
Director • John Waters
Year • 2000
Duration • 88 min
Screen Ratio • 1.77:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 24
Languages •
English
Subtitles • None
Release Date • January 23
Distributor •
Artisan

 
 

Highlight

Chapter 6 –
The Cast and Crew

The Sprocket Holes introduce themselves one by one to Miss Whitlock, each displaying a tattoo of their most adored director.

From Ultimate DVD #15

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