December 10, 2005

DVD Review: Bums

An impressive accomplishment. Not exactly a great movie, but one that is definitely enjoyable. Now, most of you have probably never heard of Bums, and I am sure even fewer of you have heard of Jason and Brett Butler (no Brett is not a comedienne or a baseball player). I admit, I never heard of them either until seeing this movie.

Bums is a no-budget film made by the aforementioned Butler Brothers over a span of 4 weekends. It was made for an amazing $2,000 CDN, around Toronto, Canada. This is the second feature by the duo through their company, Substance Productions. It may not be the greatest film of its kind, but it is a fun watch, and the desire put forth by those involved is admirable.

The film follows a group of friends and the way a day develops for them. It is a slice of life comedy that evokes thoughts of Kevin Smith's Clerks. From the black and white photography to the blunt dialog it has th Smith fingerprints all over it.

The film follows Dave on a typical day. He is fed up with his girlfriend's infidelities and breaks up with her. This act leaves him a little despondent, so he seeks solace with his best bud, Don. Meanwhile, his now ex, Lucy, has similar ideas, teaming up with Heather and swearing off men. Together they all decide to get out for the night and get over her, but things are never easy. What follows is not so much a story as it is just a series of events leading to a not so firm conclusion.

The plot is loose, there is no real beginning and ending. We follow these two sets of friends as relationships end, new ones start, and people are just people. I think not having a solid story hurts it in the end. While the characters are moderately interesting, there is no real resolution, it just feels like there should be more.

The acting is akin to that of a student film, not to mention the dialog. The dialog doesn't sound all that natural, it sounds like actors giving a reading, rather than the natural ebb and flow of a real world conversation.

You know, it would be so easy to pick on the dialog, or the acting, or anything, really. But, there is more going on here than a movie, it is a product of people who want to make movies, and that can be more convincing than any number of Hollywood blockbusters. Heart counts for a lot, in my opinion. Anyone can make a movie, well not really, but you know what I mean, not everyone has the heart to infuse a film with heart, to give the unreal, the ridiculous, or the poor credibility that makes you believe whatever is delivered.

The Butler brothers did some great work here, they crafted a film on virtually no money, and they made it work. I think my biggest complaint would be the use of special effects, things like slow motion and split screen. I found it to be distracting and rather cheap looking.

Video. The movie is presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1. It was shot on digital video, and it has that look to it. It is a popular format for low budget films as it is considerably less expensive than shooting film, even 16mm. It looks good, no complaints.

Audio. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 4.0, but it is fairly centered on the center. This is a dialogue driven piece, so a wide spectrum isn't needed. This does a fine job.

Extras. For a no budget indie flick, it has some good extras.
-Commentary. This features the writer/director/stars, the Butler brothers. I did not listen to the whole track, but it is very good. They talk about the production, what it is like to make a low budget film, as well as the other actors and shots. Good track.
-Outtakes. This is a collection of goofs and flubs from the set. Standard stuff.
-Music video. Pretty much what it says, a video for a song on the soundtrack.
-Photo album. This didn't do much for me.

Bottomline. Lots to like, lots to feel rather middling about. In the end, it is a great effort and I am glad to have had the opportunity to see it. I look forward to seeing more of these guys' work.


The DVD is available at the Substance Productions website.


Post a Comment