“I couldn't live a week without a private library
- indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor
before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.” ― H.P. Lovecraft

Whistling In The Graveyard

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Back by popular demand, it’s “AT THE MOVIES WITH FORD!”
WARNING! This feature contains gratuitous use of quotation marks!

I said it right after I saw it in the theater and I’m saying it again now that I’ve rented it, ‘Identity’ kicks ass!

I hard to say much more than that without giving anything away, but I’ll try.

The box reads:

“What if every choice we ever make was already made for us? What if there really were no coincidences in life and our destinies were already predetermined?

Ten strangers with secrets are brought together in a savage rainstorm: A limo driver (John Cusack), an ‘80’s TV star (Rebecca DeMornay), a cop (Ray Liota) who is transporting a killer (Jake Busey), a call girl (Amanda Peet), a pair of newlyweds (Clea DuVall and William Lee Scott) and a family in crisis (John McGinley, Leila Kenzle, Bret Loehr), all take shelter in a desolate motel run by a nervous night manager (John Hawkes). Relief in finding shelter is quickly replaced with fear as the ten travelers begin to die, one by one. They soon realize that, if they are to survive, they’ll have to uncover the secret that has brought them all together.”

Ten people, through a mysterious set of circumstances, find themselves stranded in what looks remarkably like the Bates Motel, (In fact, when I saw the ads I thought it was a big-budget relaunch of the ‘Psycho’ franchise), and people start to die. Sound simple? It isn’t. Not by a longshot. Not since ‘Fight Club’ have I been so pleasantly surprised by a twist in a film.

But I can’t have a post without some gripe, and it is thus: I picked up the “Special Edition”. It promises, in all caps, so you know they mean it, “WIDESCREEN PRESENTATION FEATURES THE OPTION TO VIEW THE EXCLUSIVE BRANCHED VERSION OF THE FILM WITH ALTERNATIVE ENDING AND ADITIONAL SCENE”. What’s wrong with that, you ask? The fact that even though we selected the “Special Version” it looked exactly the same as it did in the theater, which is to say really good, but the ending was exactly the same and there was no extra scene as the box so boldly promised me. As thrilled as I was by the movie I was equally disappointed by the execution of the DVD. Well that, and Clea DuVall’s performance, but I don’t know what I expected. It was, after all, Clea DuVall…

We watched both versions of the film and tried several ways to find the so-called “Easter Eggs”, and the two versions of the movie looked exactly the same. This brings me to another point. If I buy a movie, especially a “Special Edition” (fuck I’m using a lot of quote marks tonight…) I want to see EVERYTHING. You got something? Fuckin’ give it to me! I don’t want to spend hours looking for it! I’d like to think I have better things to do!. I don’t, but I like to fucking think it! If I want to sit in front of my TV and figure out fucking puzzles I have video games!

Most of the crap isn’t worth watching anyway! What’s this? Oh goody! I spent three hours randomly pushing buttons to get Clea DuVall’s fucking screen test! A bad actress doing the same lines I just saw her do in the movie only not as good! YAY!!!

Lets face it, some movies have “Special Features” and some don’t. More and more, now that there’s a market for the stuff, we’re getting the shit off of the cutting room floor. Such is the case with the ‘Identity’ “Special Edition” DVD. It’s really starting to get to me.

What’s even worse is the multiple-release. You know what I’m talking about. I bought the ‘Animal House’ “Anniversary Edition” and now there’s the “Double Secret Probation Edition”. I bought ‘X-Men’ and they answered with ‘X-Men’ “1.5”. I buy the ‘Terminator 2’ “Ultimate Edition” and now there’s the “Even More Ultimate Edition” or whatever. The list goes on, and as a movie collector, this disturbs me. See, I actually watch that extra crap, and I do it for three reasons:

1. I love movies and I am genuinely interested in how they’re made.
2. I like to watch the commentary tracks. I find them helpful in my own writing endeavors. (You don’t think this is the only writing I do, do you?)
3. I’m a loser with nothing better to do. Besides, now that TV has been totally smeared by the feces that is ‘Reality TV’ I need to get as much mileage out of my DVD’s as possible

See, I like knowing about the movies. I, as I have said, love movies, but the industry is taking advantage of me. I point to the worst offender, George Lucas.

I don’t yet own ‘Star Wars: Episode 1’ or ‘Episode 2’ on DVD. This is because I have three fucking sets of the first three films in my VHS closet. (It’s exactly what it sounds like. A closet full of VHS tapes. Stop asking stupid questions.) I have them as they were first released, WITH the original box art. I have the widescreen, THX sound versions, and I have the widescreen, THX, “Special Motherfucking Edition” set. Three movies, nine tapes. It’s a sickness.

So judging by my experience, and half a shelf in the VHS closet, I know that Lucas will release each DVD individually. Then he’ll release the original three on DVD individually. Then he’ll do a “Special Edition” of each film individually, then he’ll do a boxed set, “Special Edition” of all six of them together, and then he’ll do it again every year in a new “Anniversary Edition” with new footage that will magically appear for the rest of goddamn eternity! Each of them offering just enough "new" stuff that I'll just have to buy it.

Then he’ll get to releasing the ‘Indiana Jones’ Movies…

But ‘Identity’ takes it to another level in that both versions of the film look exactly the same. Road trip did it too. The regular and unrated versions are exactly the same. So we figure that if there is, in fact, ANYTHING special about the “Special Edition” it is either hidden or it’s so inconsequential to the plot that we didn’t notice it when we watched the two versions of the film back-to-back. And I really notice shit like that. Really. It pisses people off.

So what I’m saying is it’s a really good film, one of the best of it’s kind to come out in quite a while and you should all watch it. Just don’t put yourself through any trouble trying to find the not-so-special-“Special Edition”.

Go rent it now, you fools!

Oh, and if you haven’t seen ‘Fight Club’ rent that too! And bring me George Lucas, the way I see it he owes me money.

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