Silver City

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Richard Mellor

Read The Exile's film review of Silver City

Isn't it great when you can comfortably share silence? This (slightly edited) observation from Pulp Fiction's Mia Wallace rings utterly true in the audio commentary on Silver City's DVD, where an invisible John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi guide us through the film, scene by scene.

As the hushed picture unfolds at normal speed, Sayles and Renzi make observations, reveal secrets and divulge opinions whenever they see fit. Renzi chatters along energetically, but Sayles is a more thoughtful fellow; at intervals when she runs out of batteries, only delicious silence remains to linger happily above the ongoing murmur.

This makes for delightful empathy. Sayles and Renzi are, like you, sitting on a sofa somewhere watching the film. There is an assumption made here that you like Silver City, that you are intrigued and fascinated by it and must know more. This logic resonates throughout the extras; never does anyone try to expand its fan base, or shrug you off. This is a DVD solemnly for enthusiasts.

Each shot is explained in fine detail, both in the commentary and, more so, in the Making Of featurette. Every idea is expanded and every wave to a current American leader explained. The Making Of doc begins with a declaration of kicking George Dubya's ass and much attention is placed on clarifying the filmmakers' dissatisfaction with American politics throughout.

As with every good DVD package, all of the main cast and crew participate. This is less satisfactory with Silver City, however, where the cast is huge and varied. Main man Danny Huston is amicable enough, but far too pleased with himself. He would be suitable for a few clips, but a 15-minute interview to explain his character is too much, especially as his hair somehow looks more improbable than normal.

Everyone else has to settle for the occasional sound bite as the film's composition is chronicled. Despite some punchy contributions, this mass array of talent, as with the film, just serves to cancel each other out. The problem is equally obvious in the trailer. Previewing the film at a nice, alluring rhythm, it suddenly stops to spend its second half reeling of the names of the entire cast at a ridiculous pace. Instead of suggesting an Altman-esque actors' showcase, this actually warns of a needless number of cooks ruining a possibly tasty broth.

Sayles' films have been criticised for their slow pace and lack of immediacy. But that is to miss the point. Movies like Lone Star, or Silver City, are slow, simmering potboilers, rather than Vin Diesel Inc microwave meals. They are sculpted to appeal to the more discerning cinemagoer, with layers and subtexts to chew and disseminate. And as you might expect, the DVD package maintains this mentality. With every conceivable detail, it lovingly helps Silver City fans totally devour the picture.

John Sayles cares about You.

Reviewed on: 15 Nov 2005
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Silver City packshot
Part murder mystery, part political rant, John Sayles goes looking for trouble in Colorado.
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Product Code: TVD3630

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Surround

Extras: Making Of featurette; commentary with director John Sayles & producer Maggie Renzi; interview with Danny Huston; trailers

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