New Wave (A)
R1 - America - ThinkFilm
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Gregor Cameron (24th September 2007).
The Film

There is something very post-adolescent about films that look and feel as though they were someone's graduation project from Film School. You can smell the ambition.
And so it is with "A New Wave" as Jason Garvey seems to have been able to call in some favors, assembled a very capable cast, allowed his production team to try out some new roles and served them with a less than perfect script. But you can see what he thought he was doing. However this first project from 'Fitter Happier Films' is just not up to par yet.
Clearly with a title like this he is preparing to show us some familiarity with the French "nouvelle vague"- even his characters; Desmond (Andrew Keegan), Gideon (John Krasinski), Rupert (Dean Edwards) and "Jules" (Lacey Chabert) seem to suggest a European connection rather than small town America where this story is set- the aptly named Plainville.
His cinematographer Kambui Olujimi, moving from gaffer and grip duties to the camera allows elements of the French movement to creep in- sometimes miss-framing close-ups. Some images therefore while fine in close up dissolve into murkiness in wide. Mind you, it might have been shot in digital video with an excess of light. Certainly there is knowledge here.
However, it doesn't quite succeed. Right from the beginning, though the opening sequence is suitably anarchic, it is clear that this is a straight line clear narrative, a tragicomedy in common with some of the sixties period of the French movement, but without the more surreal elements.
This is a film about disaffected youth, planning a bank robbery while trying to come to terms with who they are- decidedly middle class, never having to worry about anything and consequently unable to find a reason to really commit to anything. Privilege has ruined their chance of meaning and so they seek it through their obsession with popular culture and movies. And it is here that the film comes undone since this is the French movement as filtered by Quentin Tarantino that is- with all the accuracy that Tarantino brings to his homage's to past movements.
However where Tarantino's virtue is his own particular vision, Garvey is not up to it. It is too difficult to discern whether Garvey it inviting us to criticize his protagonists for their lack of vision or whether he seriously wants to compare the present day slackers with those of their parents/grandparents. The style of the film hints one way while the lackluster 'all too clever" script seems to condemn the characters to a schmaltzy kind of inevitability.
His actors represent the banality of the young very well. Andrew Keegan and John Krasinski look eerily similar enough to be brothers rather than friends and this very trait underlines the rampant tribalism of the young. Dean Edwards supports ably but we never really explore how this cross racial friendship exists or even developed and it is only the DVD cover that places him as "The Brit". Lacey Chabert brings both strength and vulnerability to her role- and its great to see that her "girlie" voice has matured with some good voice coaching- now if only she could get over the virginal poor-mans Jennifer Love Hewitt image (in fact she featured in a Hewitt's series "Ghost Whisperer" (2005-Present) as a substitute girlfriend for Hewitt's character).
Let me say this, there is much to like in this movie and for an example of an emergent film-maker it is worth watching- carefully, as this team will and should continue working because it is clear that they are engaged in forming themselves and their next project will benefit from the learning they gained from the flaws in this one.

Video

Presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 this anamorphic image was rather lackluster, the image was soft and lacking in detail. Colors appeared dull and uninteresting (perhaps this was an aesthetic decision but it overall the look was unimpressive). Blacks were decidedly murky and featured some noise, grain can be seen and some minor compression artefacts as well. Aside from these flaws which make the image appear flat the overall image was at least clean.

Audio

A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, the film is largely dialogue driver with few action set pieces (mainly the robbery), the dialogue is clear and distortion free and the music comes across well but I felt that range was limited and depth was never truly achieved, impressiveness is an important element that does quite happen here, it would have been beneficial for Think Film to have provided a 5.1 mix.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

The main extra us a deleted scenes reel that runs for 21 minutes 44 seconds and basically includes scene extensions to the bank where Desmond deals with the old lady at the teller's window, additional dialogue when he's talking to Gideon about researching movies at the apartment, an extended fake robbery sequence when they are reading through Gideon's script and finally some additional dialogue between Desmond and Julie in her bedroom.

A fairly standard outtakes reel runs for 8 minutes 17 seconds and features the cast acting silly in takes, flubbing lines and missing cues, nothing all that funny unfortunately just a series of takes where the cast made mistakes...boring.

Next up is "Big Plans" a music video from the film's soundtrack performed by the band Sunriser and runs for 4 minutes 33 seconds.

Also included on this disc is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers for:
- "The Wendell Baker Story" which runs for 2 minutes 22 seconds.
- "The Dog Problem" which runs for 2 minutes 34 seconds.
- "Live Free or Die" which runs for 1 minute 54 seconds.
- "Life of the Party" which runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds.
- "Farce of the Penguins" which runs for 2 minutes 18 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: C Overall: C

 


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