Andy Warhol said that everyone would be famous for 15 Minutes or perhaps five if you’re on Right To Reply :)
An oddball Czech – Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) – and Russian – Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov) – come to America to settle some old scores and decide, after overhearing from a newspaper vendor that the rights to make a movie about a celebrity being killed has netted the murderer $1 million, to go the same route, aiming for celebrity detective Eddie Fleming (Robert De Niro), a celebrity because whenever the TV crews turn up while he’s on a case, he’s happy to spill the beans about what’s happening.
The film attempts to partner Eddie with arson investigator Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns), who meets up with him because the first time the foreigners strike they burn down the building that includes their first two victims, a murder that was witnessed by prostitute Daphne Handlova (Vera Farmiga). However, once Jordy’s involved he just decides to hang around Eddie even though he’s got no real reason to do so and the cover shot of the two of them pointing guns make this appear to be a buddy-buddy action flick, which couldn’t really be further from the truth as there’s not a great deal of action going on in the scenes they share, bar one chase after the two murderers.
A friend of Eddie’s and a man who has taken cameras round to film his arrests much like the TV show Cops, Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer plays “Top Story” anchorman Robert Hawkins, whose catchphrase, “Hard to believe. Watch.”, is tested when he’s supplied the ultimate tape to be shown exclusively on his programme.
The cast also includes Deep Space 9‘s Avery Brooks as Eddie’s detective partner Leon Jackson, Melina Kanakaredes as Eddie’s girlfriend Nicolette and includes a cameo for still-a-sex-siren-at-45 Kim Cattrall as Robert’s boss Cassandra and an uncredited cameo playing the boss of an escort service for South African model Charlize Theron, who came to the fore in the director’s 2 Days in the Valley in 1996 and has since gone on to star in many other films such as The Astronaut’s Wife, The Devil’s Advocate and The Cider House Rules.
While the film does fill the interest level for the near-2hr running time, it’s not a story that leaves you greatly satisfied and seems rather distorted, given its tendancies to play to the obvious at times and the fact that it didn’t make enough of the partnership between the two leads as it should’ve done. Often, especially when watching the extras, it seems like it’s a film best seen in chunks rather than in one full go.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and is anamorphic. Rich, colourful and detailed I can find nothing to complain about. Even the night-time scenes are striking when lit up with neon. The average bitrate is 5.86Mb/s, occasionally peaking at 9Mb/s.
Not only has EiV given us a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but also DTS 5.1, which makes good use of the few scenes that fill the speakers with loud sound as well as complementing the ambient ones. Dialogue is in English only.
Not only this but we also have a decent set of extras running for 85 minutes beginning with two documentaries: True Tabloid Stars (15 mins), in which daytime chatshow hosts such as Jerry Springer and Sally Jessy Raphael and other TV people fromthe same background wax lyrical over what gets the ratings. Surprisingly, this is presented in a matted 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, mixed in with similar clips from the film. The other doc, Does Crime Pay? (21 mins), delves into the themes of the film and the motives behind what happens, but to detail it here would ruin the plot of the film for those who haven’t seen it. This is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen.
Six Deleted Scenes, in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, are included lasting between one minute and four and each have the option of director’s commentary, the longest scene being a chase between Jordy and Oleg which starts with two busty blondes in the nude (above) and leads into a cinema playing the director’s aforementioned 2 Days in the Valley.
To enhance the reality of the film, the director asked actor Oleg Taktarov and Director of Photography Jean Yves Escoffier to videotape two murder scenes as they were being performed. I can’t identify, for those who haven’t seen the film, who’s being killed, but Oleg’s Videos is actual unedited material taken from his video camera. A main feature of the film itself, Oleg’s obsession with the camera can seem as sick as that experienced in the incredible Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and the first one-take scene is staggeringly eerie, but the second does have some jump cuts.
The DVD also contains a Music Video for a cover of David Bowie’s “Fame”, performed by God Lives Underwater, a 2-minute Theatrical Trailer in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and DD5.1 sound, five Rehearsal Scenes with picture-in-picture showing the final version and Filmographies for the director and most principal cast members. Finally the DVD includes a feature-length Director’s Commentary.
Subtitles are in English only, there are 21 chapters so the film could use a few more and the main menu contains the thumping beat that runs throughout most of the film and animation from film clips, but be careful as the third thing Kelsey Grammer says on this will spoil part of the plot – and that shouldn’t have been allowed. However, given the amount of extras and the inclusion of a DTS 5.1 soundtrack – neither of which we’re used to on most EiV DVDs – I’ll forgive them.
Running time: 116 minutes
Studio: Entertainment in Video
Released: September 10th 2001
Region(s): 2, PAL
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: DVD 9
Director: John Herzfeld
Producers: Keith Addis, David Blocker, John Herzfeld and Nick Wechsler
Screenplay: John Herzfeld
Music: Anthony Marinelli and J Peter Robinson
Eddie Fleming: Robert De Niro
Jordy Warsaw: Edward Burns
Robert Hawkins: Kelsey Grammer
Leon Jackson: Avery Brooks
Nicolette Karas: Melina Kanakaredes
Emil Slovak: Karel Roden
Oleg Razgul: Oleg Taktarov
Cassandra: Kim Cattrall
Daphne Handlova: Vera Farmiga
Rose Hearn: Charlize Theron
Boy in Burning Building: Anton Yelchin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.