A Dirty Shame DVD Review
PictureE.I.V. has provided a theatrically correct 1.85:1 anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV's picture with an average bitrate of 5.99 Mbps, and what a picture it is. Because of the extras I had to watch the film three times and not once did I spot any problems. First up the picture is resoundingly bright, with wonderful rich colours the burst off the screen. When the 'action' moves to night time the perfectly set brightness and contrast ensure there are deep pure blacks and blues with absolutely no loss of detail, pin sharp throughout. Finally there was no hint of compression problems or edge enhancement nor film grain. Right from the opening scene to the closing credits the picture is quite stunning, a perfect and well deserved 10.
SoundThere are two English Dolby digital tracks, a 5.1 and a 2.0 surround. The film does not really lend itself to a full surround experience, it is quite talky with little in the way of effects, however, this is more than made up for in the score. Waters is well known for filling his films with the kind of quirky, toe tapping tunes that you think you've heard before, and Dirty Shame is no exception. It is these tunes that make full use of the sound stage and save this track from mediocrity. The range teeters on the mid to high range for the majority of the film and this is fine as there everything is always clear precise and audible, but when the music comes in a beautiful rich bass really fills out the range. So, whilst the track may not be a fully immersive surround experience, the effect of the score does leave a pleasing ambience and in the end I was very satisfied.
The 2.0 surround, is obviously quite flat in comparison. It too benefits from the music score and this is where the best effects are, the rest of the sound being firmly placed in the front. Tonally this track sounded slightly 'thicker' than the 5.1, I put this down to the separation rather than any processing, it did not detract from the experience in itself but was poor when compared.
ExtrasFirst up there is a commentary with director John Waters. He is very candid about his work and very much open to discussion and interpretation about the various visuals he employs to tell his story. He hardly pauses for breath, and there is much discussed; he has high praise for his home town of Baltimore, the cast and the crew. He continually points out references to his older movies as well as various 'erotic foliage' that one might miss on first viewing. Thankfully too he explains all the fetishes that the film demonstrates, because there were quite a few that I had never heard of! I found his commentary very enjoyable to listen to, even his odd nasal voice seemed fine.
Next up there is a commentary from selected members of Waters' tried and tested team. Most of these guys/gals have been working with Waters for years and have a good grasp of the type of work they do. Although there is a fair amount of discussion amongst the group, there are often times of over talking and it was, at times, very difficult to hear what was being said. It did take a fair amount of concentration to get anything out of the chatter, much of which diverges wildly form the film in places and as such I found it rather poor. Imagine trying to listen to a conversation on another table in a busy restaurant might give you a feel as to how difficult it was to listen to this feature at times.
Next up we have the wonderful All the Dirt on A Dirty Shame, an excellent series of interviews with the cast and crew of the film. This feature runs for 82 minutes (nearly as long as the film itself) with everyone and everything being covered; there is always something interesting said. Absolutely no filler material is used to pad the run time, this is cast and crew talking to camera about their entire experience of the film. I cannot stress how refreshing it was to find this, so many times these types of features are nothing more than self congratulatory musings with film inserts, not so here and it was all the better for it. It is chaptered should you wish to jump to a particular section, the play all function lets you watch everything and this is how I would advise it be seen. Much like a film this feature is neatly arranged to form a story, from beginning to end; how, why and what for on A Dirty Shame, an excellent watch.
Next up we have a deleted scene, this is actually shown at the end of the above feature as well and involves Knoxville an animatronic snake protruding from his trousers and, well you can probably guess. Amazingly enough Waters does have limits, the snake was to have a protruding tongue, like a real snake, but this was deemed too much, go figure!
Finally we have the theatrical trailer for the film.
VerdictWaters may have become more main stream in the past few years, but he has lost none of his edge. A Dirty Shame is a very funny comedy, with an off beat subject matter and a strong underlying message. As a DVD Entertainment in Video has released a very decent package, the extras list may look light, but with such comprehensive documentary and two commentaries I can think of nothing else you might want, excellent.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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