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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Dir. James Toback
  • Featurette - A COnversation about Independent Film
  • Filmographies

Fingers

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . R . NTSC

  Feature
Contract

When watching any film with Harvey Keitel (or as his close friends know him, “Sir”) you have to keep reminding yourself that you’re not watching Jerry Lewis, and that’s why you feel so depressed.

Looking back over just some of his work, he’s played a dirty cop with a thing for schoolgirls and full frontal nudity, a killer with a thing for bathing not-yet-dead people in acid, and a pimp with a thing for bad hats, singlets and Jodie Foster.

And they’re just the movies in which he plays a good guy. You should see what he’s like in Little Nicky with Adam Sandler! You’ll want to slash your wrists, it’s so depressing.

This might be the very same feeling you’re left with after viewing his performance in Fingers. As Jimmy Angelli, he’s a part-time collector for his loan shark father, and part-time classical pianist with dreams of future successes in a more legitimate and meaningful art form. For the benefit of mob collectors reading: I don’t mean that busting heads isn’t an art form, I’m sure you guys are very creative at what you do and often sit around discussing the manner in which you control blood splattage for maximum visual impact. It’s just that I can’t imagine a time when “whacking someone upside the head” for non-payment of a loan competes with live theatre.

Anyway, to say that Jimmy leads a slightly schizophrenic life is a bit of an understatement, just like how saying John Howard resembles a giant agitated koala is an understatement. You know, if you shaved a koala’s head, and only left some fur over its eyes and around the ears, put glasses on it and then stuck knitting needles in its ass, then you’d have the spitting image of Howard. Ever wondered why you never see news footage of Howard at a zoo or a retirement home? Think about it...

Anyway, as I was saying about Jimmy, if his career choices weren’t bad enough, his relationships leave a lot to be desired as well. Meeting up and bedding down with a far from homey girl (okay, she’s a slut), he struggles to cope with a woman who is probably as two-sided as him (or possibly three-sided, depending on how many people are in the room). So as he grapples with making a final collection for his grizzled old pop, getting his fingers and mind in tune for an audition which would see him earn the admiration of his mother (currently residing in a mental facility) and getting his love life in order so that he doesn’t have to get a doctor to stick a finger up his bum, Jimmy is in essence going nuts. If he isn’t nuts already.

As the camera follows Jimmy around observing his day to day existence, you get the feeling it’s a bleak existence, a depressing existence, an existence fuelled with '50s/'60s music, Bach and rough casual sex. Okay, so it’s not so bad really, when compared to my own existence which is fuelled by dirty nappies, arguing with my wife, thinking up stupid stuff to write for DVDnet and drinking beer. Someone should film me for a day, I guarantee that it will make your life and Jimmy's look like living in a f*cking fun park.

  Video
Contract

Stupid NTSC. Stupid Earth. Stupid Warner. Buyer Beware: You must have equipment capable of displaying NTSC to view this DVD. If you don’t, please write a letter to your local government representative, or email stupidNTSC@stupidwarner.com.au. If you can play NTSC, but you get results like mine, then the jerk-o-rama look will probably turn you off anyway. Hey, I just realised that NTSC could also stand for No To Sexy Carp! What exactly have Warner got against PAL and sexy carp, anyway? Saving money on PAL masters is one thing, being prejudiced against attractive fish is another entirely. They’ve got a lot to bloody answer for, if you ask me!

But what you’re probably asking me now is how does the picture look? It looks okay, is the answer. Not great. But it was probably in less than great shape to begin with. It definitely has that low budget/grimy look. The picture is a little grainy, some fine some not so fine. For example, in one scene it really jumps out during a bit of noogy in a bathroom where the wall tiles in the shot look like they're being attacked by crazed knats. Colours have that distinctive '70s look, perhaps a little oversaturated which shows up in skintones looking too ruddy. Detail's so-so, but the picture is marred by noticeable and excessive edge enhancement and aliasing.

  Audio
Contract

This was originally recorded in mono, and that's what we get here, with average sounding DD1.0 audio. It uses the single centre channel rather than the two channel variety (which I can't stand) and the quality of the recording shows through at time to time. Much of it sounds like they used the production recording straight off the street without much work other than placing in the soundtrack later. It sounds a little weak and rough, but it isn't hard to follow,

  Extras
Contract

The highlight of the slim bonus material is a commentary from director/writer James Toback. This is one of the better commentaries I've heard recently, even though Toback has a monotonous voice which just drones on and on. His comments, from casting, shooting, anecdotes about people and things he had to go through to get the film made, make for interesting listening. He recalls little amusing stories that went on in the background, and also clarifies some scenes which need further explanation. A good listen if you want to know a bit more about the film and its production.

Then there's Fingers – A Conversation About Independent Film With Harvey Keitel and James Toback (5:40). This is a long title for a short featurette, and it's a bit of a missed opportunity, because Keitel and Toback would have had much more to say about the nature of filmmaking than what they divulge here. Their comments on casting, characters, shooting and distribution are criminally short. Far more is to be learnt in the commentary.

Also on disc is a trailer and cast & crew listing, which only lists a few key people and has filmographies for Toback and Keitel.

  Overall  
Contract

This isn't the most pleasant film around, but like I said, you're not watching Jerry Lewis here. Keitel is usually a hard actor to "enjoy" when viewed in his rougher, earlier roles, and I know a few people who just can't stand the sight of him. It's a shame, because he's got an edginess which he brings to his roles, such as in Fingers, and once you latch on to it, you can't tear your eyes away from the screen.

The DVD on the other hand, well, what can I say? Frickin' NTSC, I can't stand the sight of it. Sure, the picture isn't great anyway, but formatting for another country certainly doesn't help matters. As usual, I'm taking a few points off for this, but it's kind of compensated for by an interesting commentary.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2261
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      And I quote...
    "A rough film to watch with another edgy performance by Keitel, unfortunately this is also another NTSC release which doesn't help matters."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale WH-2
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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