Johnny Suede

Johnny Suede

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: David Stanners

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Johnny Suede

Despite a dearth of special features, writer/director Tom DiCillo more than makes up for it with his commentary, which provides a fascinating backdrop to the production of Johnny Suede, his first feature film.

Discussing his time in the late Seventies at NYU film school and on the punk-littered streets of New York, which were infected with all sorts of unsavoury characters, strung out on chemical soup. These images provided the impetus and influence for Nick Cave's character, Freak Storm, amongst others.

Copy picture

When the film went into production in 1991, New York's landscape had changed so much that it was necessary to relocate. Originally hoping to film on the Lower East Side, an area that had in the Seventies been populated by a wide variety of the working class, by the early Nineties it had gentrified to such an extent that DiCillo was forced to choose one of the roughest downtrodden areas of Brooklyn in which to shoot. This presented the first of many onset problems, which are shared at length in anecdotes throughout the commentary.

Apparently DeCillo had all his own classic Fifties clothes nicked (he had provided Brad Pitt's wardrobe) by Brooklyn's equivalent to Leith Neds, as well as having to contend with a cantankerous Nick Cave, indifferent cinematographers and, worst of all, Miramax big shot Harvey Weinstein pulling the plug on distribution, after getting wind of a bad review in the New York Times.

There are dozens of other interesting insights into his characters, some good scene by scene commentaries and, most of all, a master class on how devilish it must be trying to get a non-mainstream film made with very little experience, punctuated by continuous slaps in the face - before, during and after production.

This said, it would have been nice to hear something from the stars themselves.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2005
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Johnny Suede packshot
A teenage troubadour searches for meaning amongst damaged egos and broken dreams.
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Product Code: 2NDVD3080

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras: Audio commentary by director/writer Tom DiCillo; photo gallery


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