Sound: C Extras: C- Film: C-
Many complain today of the music video’s influence
on feature films, ruining narrative filmmaking, as well as the quality of
motion pictures in general. Decades
before that, however, several filmmakers allowed experimental films and other
unusual short subjects enter the cinematic vocabulary. From Stan Brakhage to Andy Warhol, the very
fabric of celluloid itself was being seen in a new light. Filmmakers like David
Lynch, Terry Gilliam, David Fincher, and even Jean Pierre Jeunet helped to
Veit Helmer delves into that direction with the
near-dialogueless Tuvalu (2000), an amalgamation of such alternate
styles, pitting a good brother (Beau Travail’s Dennis Lavant) against
the odds of holding onto a crumbling bathhouse. He has to deal with obstacles
like the bizarre clientele, the rotting condition of the building itself, and
his evil older brother. Additionally,
he has fallen in love with a woman who might help him, but will this mean saving
the bathhouse, or realizing he has the option to abandon it without losing what
he felt he needed to hold on to in the first place.
After so many filmmakers
going down this road, the question is what could Helmer possibly do that would
make it worth the time to watch this feature that had little ground to
break? Well, there is no ground broken
here, yet Helmer deserves credit for his enthusiasm and consistency in
realizing his manic vision. It may be
things we have seen before, yet he struggles to find his own identity as a
director with it. He wrote it, but it
unfortunately offers a situation where he is saying one too many things only he
seems to know the meaning of.
Though not an anamorphic transfer, this letterboxed
DVD comes off of a clean print and good transfer. It may be a PAL transfer, or a simple digital transfer, but it is
the best thing about this disc. One can
imagine how impressive the cinematography by Emil Christov, BAC, is in its
native 35mm. The sound is another
issue. It is supposed to be in Dolby
Digital 2.0 surround from Dolby Analog SR theatrical, but it is limited to 2.0
Stereo! The same goes for the 1.66 X 1
short, also not anamorphic, which was SR.
It being 2.0 without surrounds might make sense, because you never know hat
happens to short films. They do not get
the protection, storage, and treatment more expensive features do. However, it is a problem in both cases and
makes no sense. The film sounds better
than the short, but not by much.
Besides Helmer’s experimental short film,
“Surprise”, you get 19 good-quality stills from the film, and other trailers
for other First Run Video DVDs including The Fluffer, Cleopatra’s
Second Husband, Fighter, and the fine Aberdeen.
The films actually runs 87:30 minutes, though the
box says 86. If this sounds like your
kind of film, you might want to see it, but the rest should pass on Tuvalu.
This film was edited by Araksi Mouhibian, with
music by Jurgen Kneiper, costumes by Boriana Mintcheva, production design by
Alexander Manasse, cinematography by Emil Christov, BAC, and both written and
directed by Veit Helmer.
- Nicholas Sheffo