Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Be Kind Rewind

This DVD, also available in Blu-Ray format, comes with all sorts of bells and whistles – a host of interviews, featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage, not to mention optional English SDH subtitles and even a full audio description service – all of which makes the omission of additional 'Sweded' movies (as outtakes or deleted scenes) seem pretty glaring. No doubt, in a reflection of themes found within the film itself, this omission is due to the potential breach of copyright – and, indeed, given the unusually reflexive status of Be Kind Rewind as a film about films, remakes and reimaginings, it is hardly surprising (and largely excusable) that many of the extras here seem as naïve, rehashed and amateurish as parts of the film itself.

If deleted scenes are generally conspicuous by their absence from this disc, at least it includes the one film-within-a-film that will not be bothering any copyright lawyers. Fats Was Born Here, the faux documentary on Fats Waller that frames Be Kind Rewind and galvanises its characters, is presented here in its complete 11-and-a-half-minute version, and is a joy from start to finish.

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The featurette Jack and Mos Improvise Songs represents a similar compensation of sorts for the lack of deleted 'Sweded' scenes. Over five hilarious minutes, leads Jack Black and Mos Def extemporise daft duets on-set to accompany their characters' 'Sweded' films, prompted by arbitrary title cards which Gondry holds up before them.

Less diverting are two additional short musical featurettes (Booker T & Michel Gondry, Paris Concert) that show writer/director Gondry jamming (on drums) respectively with jazz legend Booker T and with Mos Def (on vocals) – and the so-called Conversation with Jack Black and Michel Gondry is a contrived-seeming attempt at spontaneous whimsy, as the pair discuss the meaning(s) of the phrase "squeezing the duck", before discussing the philosophical and theological ramifications of 'Sweding'. Jack Black muses, "Do you think God was 'Sweding' when He created the universe?" It is less interesting than it sounds.

The two most substantial featurettes, Passaic/Mosaic (10 minutes) and The Making Of Be Kind Rewind (33 minutes) demonstrate how the film's production mirrored its plot by getting the people of Passaic (where it is set and was shot) involved, and energising an impoverished and neglected community that has "real talent". The DP Ellen Kuras reveals that the 'Sweded' films really were shot on VHS, while Jack Black points out (with behind-the-scenes footage to illustrate his point) that the montage of 'Sweded' films at the film's centre was in fact all filmed in a single fluid shot, with the cast having to undergo some very quick costume changes. It is amazing (and, in a way, humbling) to see how something so simple looking in the finished film was so absurdly complicated to capture.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2008
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Be Kind Rewind packshot
After accidentally wiping all the tapes in the video store where they work, two enterprising clerks decide to re-shoot the films themselves.
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Product Code: B0015VI34S

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Making-of, various featurettes (Passaic/Mosaic, Booker T & Michel Gondry, Jack and Mos Improvise Songs, A Conversation with Jack Black and Michel Gondry, Paris Concert), full version of Fats Was Born Here

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