DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS
Catfish (Momentum): An increasingly mysterious online relationship forms the backdrop for this compelling documentary about a group of New Yorkers who seek to find out the real identity of someone they only know via the web.
The common refrain about Catfish when it premièred to buzz and acclaim at Sundance back in January, was that you should know as little as possible before seeing it and it really is the case (in fact, stop reading this now and come back when you’ve seen the film).
It begins when Nev, a 24-year-old photographer based in New York, is contacted online by Abby, an 8-year-old girl from Michigan, who wants permission to paint one of his photos.
An online correspondence develops with Abby’s family and things get stranger when Nev also virtually befriends Abby’s older sister, Megan, who appears to be a musician and model.
Up to this point everything we see has been filmed by Nev’s brother Ariel Schulman along with their friend Henry Joost, and in a pivotal scene Ariel persuades his sibling to actually meet Abby and Megan in the real world.
This is when things get really interesting, with the gradually unfolding mystery playing like a suspense thriller.
In a year that has seen ‘fake’ documentaries like Exit Through The Gift Shop and I’m Still Here, questions about the authenticity of the film seem to reflect a wider ambiguity about the genre itself.
Was it always their intention to make a film? Would a group of savvy New Yorkers really be this naïve about strangers online? Are the events that unfold too structurally perfect?
Charges that the film is a fake documentary have been vigorously denied by the filmmakers ever since the likes of Morgan Spurlock and Zach Galifianakis cast doubt on it at Sundance.
Whatever the truth, it seems fitting that a film which depicts the uncertainty of online identities should have its own personality crisis. It captures a cultural mood, inspires instant debate and stretches the documentary form in new and imaginative ways.
> Buy the DVD from Amazon UK and is on various VOD platforms including iTunes
> My full review of Catfish and my strange Catfish experience at the LFF
I’m Still Here (Optimum Home Releasing): A skilful blend of performance art and elaborate hoax, this fake documentary is a clever and frequently hilarious deconstruction of Hollywood celebrity.
Back in 2008, you may have read about Joaquin Phoenix claiming that he was going to quit acting in order to become a hip-hop artist and this is the ‘behind the scenes’ film of his supposed meltdown.
You may have also seen the now infamous appearance on Letterman where he came across like a rogue Rabbi strung out on heroin and also heard the admission that the whole thing was staged in the manner of Borat and Bruno.
Throughout Phoenix arguably gives the performance of his career in playing a twisted version of himself and Affleck has created a pleasingly anarchic take on stardom in the current era.
When this fake Joaquin is placed in real situations such as concerts, press junkets, airports filled with paparazzi and TV chat shows, the results are hilariously awkward.
Special features include:
- Feature Commentary with Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, Nicole Acacio, Larry McHale, Antony Langdon, Johnny Moreno, Antony Langdon, Johnny Moreno, Eddie Rouse, Matt Maher, Elliot Gaynon and Sue Patricola
- Feature Commentary with Casey Affleck
- Deleted Scenes (including commentary by Casey Affleck)
- Random Bits (including commentary by Casey Affleck)
- Alternate Ending (including commentary by Casey Affleck)
- Joaquin Phoenix interview by Extra’s reporter Jerry Penacoli
- Audio Conversation with Extra’s Jerry Penacoli, Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix
- Audio Conversation with Christine Spines (Journalism Professor), Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix
> Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK
> My full review of I’m Still Here
Coral Fish (Pogo Films)
F (Optimum Home Entertainment)
Gainsbourg (Optimum Home Entertainment)
K-20 – The Legend of the Black Mask (Manga Entertainment)
Kitsch Fish (Pogo Films)
MotoGP Review: 2010 (Duke)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
Terrace Tear Up Collection (Optimum Home Entertainment)
The Girl Who Played With Fire (Momentum Pictures)
Thorne: Sleepyhead/Scaredycat (2 Entertain)
> The Best DVD and Blu-rays of 2010
> UK cinema releases for Friday 7th January 2010