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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > Gangs > Punk Rock > Violence > Music > Ex Drummer (2007/Palisades Tartan Extreme DVD)

Ex Drummer (2007/Palisades Tartan Extreme DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: B-



In the thousands of films that want to be bold, cutting edge and go all out with sex, violence, horror and music, most now more than ever are total junk, slop, embarrassments and show the makers either have no talent, are idiots or their while production is an admission of desperation.  Then you get films that cut through the glut, especially when it is about the dark side of young adult life, with Paul Verhoeven’s Spetters and Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting being rare exceptions.  Koen Mortier’s Ex Drummer (2007, aka My Way Is The Highway) is another standout.


A Belgium production that drove the critics and moralists up the wall, the uncut (and very NC-17/XXX) version of the film has arrived on DVD from Palisades Tartan and it is a surprise how the makers understand what they are doing; something we used to see from independent U.S. filmmaking all the time.


Based on the popular book by Herman Brusselmans, the story is told in flashback, but unlike the vast majority of Hollywood (and childish Hollywood-like productions); it is not a safe distance as three men with serious issues form a punk rock band and need a drummer.  When they find one, they manage to get him, but the combination is so toxic and screwed-up, that they are all bound for insanity and not the success that they wish for to begin with.


There is much sex, violence, blood and humor in the film, but despite how graphic it is, it is in context to a very good screenplay penned by the director and with a decent casting job of actors we will hopefully see in future projects there and abroad, I was stunned at the honesty, rawness and guts the filmmakers had in this production.  More politically incorrect than Quentin Tarantino, this is more Punk than so many films that try to make that claim since the 1980s and just cannot cut it.


The film has some problems and a little predictability, but its strengths outdo its weaknesses and the combination of the solid writing and performances with a wild combination of editing and camera work that work for a change annihilate so many poser projects that it is no wonder this hardly got distributed in the United States.


The original three members are disabled in their own ways, so the irony of them covering the all-time DEVO classic Mongoloid (from that great band’s very first album) becomes the solidifying moment that these people are melded together and stuck with each other no matter what and the film just builds from there.


The impact of many scenes is more like the Kubrick or Scorsese school of memorable filmmaking and talent than the fast food film school wannabes we have been suffering for too long.  Ex Drummer may just be a minor classic and a film that all serious film fans must see, but be warned; it is very graphic.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image was shot in 35mm film by Director of Photography Glynn Speeckaert with great energy and Editor Manu Van Hove pulls off some great cutting work here that is the opposite of the slick & empty would-be hip approach too many bad blockbusters deliver.  The transfer here is a bit on the weak side, but this is a DVD, but there are plenty of good shots considering the format.  I would be very curious to see this on Blu-ray and/or 35mm film.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is not bad, but the soundfield is not always totally connected with flaws and gaps here and there.  However, the sound is warm enough and not bad otherwise.  Extras include 2 trailers (one cut, one uncut), a Making Of featurette and three Music Videos cut from the film that are letterboxed and not of the best quality.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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