DVDs & Blu-rays: One Last Look at December
All three of these DVDs were released in early December. They didn't make our cut then, but we thought we'd take one more look at them.
The Found Footage Festival: Volume 1 (2004) and The Found Footage Festival: Volume 2 (2005) star Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher; Pickett and Prueher direct.
The Setup: Stray footage gurus Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher travel the country screening bits of obscure promotional tapes, industrial videos, instructional health care film shorts and home movies. Most of the presentations were meant for a select audience, such as, oh, let's say, an eighth-grade boys phys ed seminar on herpes. Pickett and Prueher string them all together for a mash-up of exercise videos, a short of carnival in Rio, angry RV salesmen, rap music montages, celebrities who believe their own hype and slimy salesmen who promise to teach you how to pick up women using hypnosis.
The Execution: It's a video of a couple of guys showing videos to a live audience. Pickett and Prueher are funny and insightful, showing us how found footage reflects the United States in a way that no Spielberg masterpiece can. This is us -- warts and all.
The Extras: Ah, the whole DVD is pretty much made up of what would be called extras on other releases.
Archie's Final Project (2011) stars Gabriel Sunday and David Carradine; David Lee Miller directs.
The Setup: The angsty teen in question is 17-year-old Archie. A media student, Archie decides his last project for the school year will be his filming of his own suicide. A very dark comedy, Final Project isn't so much about Archie or why he wants to commit suicide but about the reactions of those around him: Teachers call in the shrinks (mostly just to cover their butts), some classmates cheer him on, some just stand on the side unsure of how they feel. (Really? The guy who sits next to you in math class is going to kill himself and you don't feel anything?)
The Execution: The film seamlessly examines the loss of connection between groups of people who spend most of their day together.
The Extras: The kid's gonna kill himself and you want extras?
Worst in Show stars Dane Andrew and Miles Egstad: John T. Beck and Don R. Lewis direct.
The Setup: Ugly dogs and their owners invade Petaluma, California, every summer to compete for the title of World's Ugliest Dog. First there's a long parade of u-g-l-y dogs. Then there's a parade of ugly owners (in the emotional sense) who are mad because their dogs lost! Just to be clear, each one is mad because his dog is not ugly enough.The snipes and grumbles are offset by the dogs and their ugly mugs, and a few owners who have the right perspective on the whole thing. Judges, contest newcomers, sore losers and old hands all have something to say about the winner.
The Execution: Let's just say, things get ugly.
The Extras: Outtakes, directors' commentary and a short film about how viewers can help dogs in need.