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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Stage > Drama > This So-Called Disaster (Documentary)

This So-Called Disaster (Stage Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Documentary: C+



In the last ten years or so, a group of smarmy elitist know-it-alls who know nothing have been trying to show how smart they are by deconstructing everything and exposing that all media and many interactions between people are pretentious.  “No worries” is their motto, yet their lax attitude is a politically correct menace that is helping to destroy cinema and other arts as we know it.  Michael Almereyda’s This So-Called Disaster (2004) is not totally so, disaster or pretentious mess, but it seems to have been affected with this uppity without being uppity attitude whether intended or not.


With several camcorders going, all he and his crew can come up with is about 90 minutes of something that plays more like a rough cut than a serious look at Sam Shepard developing his new play The Late Henry Moss.  Especially when you have Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin and a group solid actors in addition most are not familiar with, you would think much more could be pulled and produced form the situation.  He only has one shot to get this right and he fails to capture what looks to be a very interesting project, maybe even something landmark from Shepard.  So the actors start to get on each other’s nerves; we could see that with lesser-know (and usually far less interesting) people in bad reality TV.  The best way to say this is that the cast has energy, but this documentary does not.  What a disappointment.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was taped in the NTSC format and is nothing to write home about.  The stars are always interesting to see, but none of the four videographers seem to have any idea of where they could go with the cameras.  It feels like they used Phil Joanou’s muddy U2: Rattle & Hum (1988), which tried to be an anti-documentary.  This seems to want to be an exploration of making a stage play without seeming like one and on the visual level, it is least effective.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is flat, yet clear enough to be able to hear the most important points the actors and Shepard make.  The only extras are five trailers for other MGM DVDs, but then, what could have been offered after this?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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