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Thursday, August 05, 2010

DVD Review: GOLD: Before Woodstock, Beyond Reality

Gold: Before Woodstock, Beyond Reality (40th Anniversary Edition)

USA 1968
Director: Bob Levis
Writers: Mark Leake
Starring: Del Close, Garry Goodrow, Caroline Parr, Sam Ridge.
DVD Released: July 27th 2010
Cert: NR
Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
Distributor: Wild Eye Releasing
Region: 0 NTSC

“Hippies, hippies... they want to save the world but all they do is smoke pot and play Frisbee! I hate goddamn hippies!” -- Eric Cartman

The Film:

Uptight killjoy square cop Captain Harold Jinks(Garry Goodrow) doesn't approve of the local hippies in an Old West-style rural community romping about naked, so he zealously enforces various strict laws to ban public nudity. It's up to loopy long-haired rebel Hawk (Del Close) to save the townspeople from Jinks' oppressive reign.

OK so I stole that synopsis from IMDB because frankly I sat through this offbeat, hallucinatory, avant-garde oddity of a film and I couldn't tell you what the hell it was about other than an excuse for a bunch of folks to get really, really high and roll around naked in the mud. I could say the story is existential but that would just be straight lying, there is no story. Some of the actors are in old west costumes, some in 60's army gear, others in zoot suits but ultimately they will all just get naked. 60's counterculture it may be but a watchable movie it ain't. Directed by or rather organized by filmmaker Bob Lewis in 1968 and not given a USA release but eventually released in British theatres in 1972 it has pretty much been relegated to obscurity. The film's main claim to fame are a handful of songs by MC5 (Motor City 5) recorded for it's soundtrack, the last recordings the band would make before splitting up in 1972, making it something of a collectors item/rarity for fans. The film's main star is the father of improvisational comedy Del Close, beloved by his students which included the likes of John Belushi, Bill Murray, John Candy, etc - he also had a hand in the likes of SNL, SCTV and Upright Citizens Brigade so it's a damn shame really that this lame flick is pretty much his biggest starring role in a movie.

The Disc: 

The remastered full screen transfer looks excellent considering it's age and the relative obscurity of the content. The audio again has been remastered and it's a superb track.

Extras include -

A commentary track featuring producer/organizer Bob Levis and actor Garry Goodrow; a friendly chatty bunch of old hippies that have a good time letting us know what went on behind the scenes and just how incredibly high most of the cast and crew were during the shoot, what a shocker.

Another commentary featuring a couple of founding members of the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade. Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts were friends and associates of Del Close and they primarily discuss his life and career here, occasionally stopping to mock the onscreen action.

A 60 minute Bob Levis interview from NYC cable public access TV. Filmed in 2008 this is a surprisingly heavy political discussion between two guys that (admittedly) know what they are talking about but really do seem to think the entire world is watching them in their little audience-free studio as they debate with sledgehammer seriousness issues which are so brain-meltingly tedious that I was ready to give the movie itself another watch just to get away from them.

A 10 minute interview, also filmed recently, with Garry Goodrow, an amiable old fella that has worked with everyone in Hollywood and delights in trashing the likes of Mickey Rooney at every opportunity.

Also included are a few trailers for other Wild Eye Releasing DVDs.

It's not often I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with a fat little racist cartoon character but I'm with Eric Cartman on this one!

Review by Giuseppe Rijitano

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