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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 69.58)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Craig Monahan
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Interviews
  • Storyboards

The Interview

/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Eddie Fleming sits relaxing in a chair in his unassuming home when, suddenly, his life is turned upside down. Suddenly, police break down his door, throw him to the floor and accuse him of crimes they refuse to name. Frightened and confused, he is dragged away to be interviewed. In a dark, featureless room, Detective Sergeant Steele - a man of uncompromising authority and ruthless determination - controls Eddie’s interrogation with an iron fist and the passion that comes from many years on the job, too many criminals, too many lies. Steele is going to get his man, and he’s convinced that Eddie is exactly who he’s looking for. The truth must come out, regardless of the methods - and regardless of whether or not Eddie is telling the truth.

Most people with more than a passing interest in TV drama will have witnessed scenes such as this many times before on countless police and legal dramas. And indeed, Interview director and co-writer Craig Monahan, making his feature debut here, spent a good deal of time working in television. But the synopsis above is only a fraction of the story that drives The Interview - it’s just that to give any more away than the basic set-up of this film would seriously hurt its impact on those seeing it for the first time. Suffice to say that this ain’t your run-of-the-mill police-versus-suspect drama. There’s more to it than that. Much more.

Most of the running time of The Interview put the viewer firmly in Eddie’s place - the shock and terror of a violent arrest, the intimidation and confusion of the interrogation - the utter helplessness of it all. But as Monahan slowly unravels his story, it becomes apparent that not everything here is straightforward and simple, and that there’s more to this interrogation than meets the eye.

Obviously a feature film that’s largely confined to a single room isn’t the sort of stuff that most would expect to be compelling. But compelling it is, thanks in no small part to the performances of the two lead actors - Hugo Weaving is startlingly believable as Eddie, while Tony Martin draws on his experience in roles like this (in TV’s superb Wildside and Blue Murder) to create a terrifying, driven police detective that would be anyone’s worst nightmare in a similar situation. The acting throughout, in fact, is superb, with only a couple of clumsy script moments to distract from what otherwise is a very believable and involving story. Monahan makes the most of the opportunity for atmosphere, and his use of visual symbolism via creative camerawork and lighting gives The Interview a strange sense of distorted reality that heightens the tension immeasurably.

The Interview quite rightly won AFI awards for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, and is proof positive that even in an age of mega-budget special effects and please-everyone marketing, there’s still plenty of room for low-budget movies that are driven by intelligent writing and economical - but still very, very stylish - directing. The fact that it makes NYPD Blue look like amateur hour by comparison is all the reason you need to see this one.

  Video
Contract

It’s going to bother many people that this 1.85:1 letterboxed transfer of The Interview - done by AAV in Melbourne - is not 16:9 enhanced, but it also bears mentioning that, with hi-def telecine still prohibitively expensive for independent cinema, this is not entirely surprising. The market for this DVD would certainly not be large enough to justify the cost of a new telecine transfer (it’s worth mentioning that this transfer was most probably done shortly after the film’s completion back in 1998). While, say, Columbia Pictures or even Village Roadshow may be able to afford to spring for new transfers for DVD, the owners of a small, partially publicly financed independent film are not going to have such luxury at their disposal; rest assured this situation will change in the near future.

That said, this is a very good video representation of what The Interview looked like on the cinema screen, with cinematographer Simon Duggan’s extensive use of extreme contrast and backlighting giving most of the production a very unique look that will certainly bother some people on DVD. This is a disc to watch in a darkened room for best effect.

There are some occasional problems with aliasing on hard edges, most of them not critical, but aside from that this is an excellent transfer that really captures the unique visual style of this film while retaining a very cinema-like tonal balance.

  Audio
Contract

Not surprisingly, this is a dialogue-heavy film, and that all-important dialogue is captured extremely well by the sound mix here, which is in Dolby Surround 2.0 (the movie’s audio was mixed in that format) and encoded perfectly and flawlessly for this DVD, as we’ve come to expect from AV Channel discs. There’s not a huge amount of surround activity throughout the film - in fact, there’s not much in the way of audio effects work at all due to the nature of the beast - but David Hirschfelder’s terrific score is very much a stereo affair, reproduced subtly but clearly throughout, with the exception of the music during the closing credits (which is affected by some minor audio problems in the left channel).

  Extras
Contract

Craig Monahan collaborated with The AV Channel’s authoring team on this DVD, and a very satisfying collection of extra features is the result - starting with the animated, music-soundtracked menus, which are immensely stylish and well designed. The main menu is preceded by one of two text quotes from the film, while the scene selection menu features some very creative chapter titling that is very much in keeping with the mood (most of the chapter titles are lines of dialogue from the film itself). The use of subtle ghosting of menu items when they’re in use is quite lovely to behold; designer Ben Clay has done a superb job on this disc. The only criticism here is the time-out used on the menu screens, something that’s really not welcome on any DVD.

Director’s Commentary: Given the chance to do his first commentary on his debut feature, Craig Monahan starts off sounding slightly uncomfortable but soon settles in, spending the length of the film chatting about both the technical production of the film and the characters’ motivations. He’s very understated at times - and sometimes silent - but there’s a wealth of insight and information here that genuinely enhances the viewer’s understanding and appreciation of the movie. It’s worth bearing in mind that as the co-writer as well as the director of The Interview Monahan has a dual duty here, and while this isn’t the kind of commentary that Hollywood encourages, it’s one that fans of the film will get plenty out of.

Theatrical Trailer: Presented full-frame, this is a very effective trailer - done without narration - that represents the movie it’s advertising extremely well. While not too revealing about the film’s plot, it’s still recommended that you watch this only after you’ve seen the full feature.

Press Kit: This menu leads to a selection of materials produced, as the title suggests, for use by print and visual media at the time of the film’s release and of course for the subsequent appearance on home video. Contained here are biographies of the principal actors (four of these, all very short), an extensive set of interview segments with Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin and Aaron Jeffrey as well as Craig Monahan and co-writer Gordon Davie (all full-frame and running about 25 minutes in all, these are all well worth watching and can be played individually or all together), a list of film festival distinctions, a set of press quotes from reviews of the film and a blatant plug for the CD soundtrack album.

Deleted Scenes: Three scenes removed from the final cut of the film, all presented letterboxed but with sub-par video quality as they have been sourced from a personal copy of the rough cut of the film. There’s nothing startling here (and Monahan tells you why in the commentary provided with each deleted scene) and the “alternative ending” supplied, while visually clever and quite interesting, never belonged in the movie at all, as Monahan points out none too delicately! The time code displayed in the corner of the screen during these scenes implies that a lot more was removed after the initial rough cut than we’re seeing here - but with the final film so perfect, there’s no reason to complain.

Pre-Production: A quick run-through of the production design and location choices for the film, shot on a camcorder and narrated by Monahan along with art director Richard Bell. This is followed by a quick run-through of the storyboarding process with Monahan, where he explains some of the visual planning that went into the pre-production process. Video quality’s often sub-standard, but material such as this is priceless for those who want to learn more about the creation of the movie.

  Overall  
Contract

A stunning, compelling debut feature from a man who looks like being a director to watch, The Interview is every bit as good as the acclaim it scored upon its release would lead you to suspect. The AV Channel’s DVD offers very good video that represents the film’s intended look well (though state-of-the-art fans may be disappointed) and comes with a terrific set of extras that are going to be just as useful to those studying modern Australian cinema as they will to the merely curious. The DVD authoring and design, meanwhile, is first-rate.


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      And I quote...
    "A stunning, compelling debut feature"
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 103(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Panasonic - The One
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-AV1020
    • Speakers:
          Klipsch Tangent 500
    • Surrounds:
          Jamo
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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