Reel Reviews

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel - Blu-ray Review

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Corman's World - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

Rule breaker.  Savvy business man.  Trend setter.  Lover of the bare female form.  Forget Don Draper, legendary director/producer Roger Corman is the original Mad Man.  No other man could get actor Jack Nicholson to absolutely weep (albeit from behind a sharp pair of sunglasses) as he describes the profound effect Corman has had on Hollywood and his own illustrious career.  Yes, the Nicholson persona cracks and starts crying and, because it is so central to the film itself, you probably will, too.  Roger Corman is certifiably The Man.

Corman’s World, a documentary directed by Alex Stapleton, traces Corman’s career in Hollywood and follows him up to his honorary Oscar – a lifetime achievement award – and his current work for Syfy.  Along the way, interviews from the many, many, many people Corman has helped provide the portrait of a man.  From directors Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme to actors William Shatner and Nicholson, Corman’s career is covered retrospectively with love, humor, and fascinating stories.

Film clips and era facts prove that Corman was way ahead on the teenage fad that soon dominated the 1950s and the counter culture of the 1960s.  With films like The Fast & The Furious to The Wild Angels, Corman had his pulse on the needs and wants of the paying public and by the late 1970s had over 200 films produced and only lost money on one of them.  Now, that’s brains.

Then, when Hollywood started pumping money and talent into the very type of movies Corman was making, Corman’s World depicts how Corman and his crew survived the blockbusters that have dominated (and ruined?) Hollywood.  In every way, Corman faced the challenges – not by spending money – but by making smart business decisions.  Unfortunately, the movie skips a bit of the 70s and doesn’t touch on the whole James Cameron-sized Elephant in the room.  He’s a bona fide no show for this documentary.  Shame, really.

Stapleton has compiled a film that is consistently engaging and visually smart.  Choice cuts and some era effects (scratchy film) drop in to give the film a bit of a drive-in look.  Interviews are hysterically placed and, from barber shop visits with Bruce Dern to a stroll in the neighborhood with Ron Howard, have great locations that prove to be as interesting and as honest as Stapleton’s clarity in vision.  Interviews with Howard and Nicholson make for the bulk of the contributions.  The other segments are from Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, Scorsese, Demme, David Carradine, Bill Shatner, Peter Fonda, and Peter Bogdanovich.  Everyone is grateful and fun and engaged.

Of course, his career is not without its fair share of losses.  Easy Rider was a tough one to lose, but – as documented by the documentary – not as much Corman’s decision as it was the company’s he was pitching to.  Nervous about Dennis Hopper, the company balked at the price of production and Corman, refusing to invest in it anymore, suggested his co-patriots Fonda and Nicholson go elsewhere with his blessing.  Corman, when it comes to money, draws a firm line in the sand and, to his credit, pretty much doesn’t budge.

Modern movies owe Corman.  Hollywood owes him a bigger one.  The modern business model of producing a big-budgeted movie is his alone.  Stopping at the production of Syfy's Dinoshark, Corman's World proves there's no end to Corman's wild, wild reign.  Four hundred (and counting) films into his filmmaking career, Roger Corman shows absolutely no signs of stopping or even considering the notion of retiring.  He’s having too much fun and it shows.

Now, that’s a rebel.

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Corman's World - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Director
: Alex Stapleton
Writer
: Alex Stapleton
Cast:
Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino
Genre
: Documentary
Tagline:
Some Men Dream of Conquering the World. Roger Corman Created His Own.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Roger will just say exploitation pictures don't need plots. They need sensational things like girls shooting Filipinos out of trees. That works."
Distributor:
Anchor Bay Films
Official Site:
www.cormansworld.com
Release Date: December 16, 2011 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 27, 2012

Synopsis: Blue jeans, sock-hops and drive-in movies: the Fifties were America’s age of innocence. But stalking the depths of its post-nuclear bliss, mass paranoia became fuel for Joseph McCarthy’s brand of Red Scare terror propaganda. Bomb shelters were a deluxe feature in every American home, government-sponsored educational reels promised an imminent nuclear threat from across the Atlantic, and Hollywood, Babylon of the western world, hung on the brink of collapse. It was here, in the last-ditch machinations of a dying juggernaut, that a mild-mannered, civil engineer’s son would become the most influential force in modern moviemaking. Corman's World tracks the triumphant rise of Hollywood’s most prolific writer-director-producer, the true godfather of independent filmmaking.

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Corman's World - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 27, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

You know how documentaries go.  Interviews mixed with archival footage and the like.  Some of the footage is rough and some is pristine and then, in the case here, some is processed to look era-natural.  Corman’s World is a steady 1080p transfer that doesn’t go to extremes with clarity, but also doesn’t visually disappoint with loss of detail.  In fact, it’s about as even-tempered as Corman himself.  The interviews have great locations and are crisp with detail and tones.  Black levels are thick enough to retain edges and the interior/exterior locations are clean.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack is weighted by a great handling of dialogue and never feels outmatched.  All in all, the disc is – while not the best-looking transfer – a solid little number that isn’t looking to offend.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There’s a wee bit of a drop in quantity here.  We get three and one, of course, has to be the film’s trailer.  The other two are essentially more interviews from those not featured enough in the film.  The final supplemental is a fun segment that has the interviewer asking the interviewees the following: “Pretend the camera is Corman.  What would you say to him?” and their unedited responses follow.

  • Extended Interviews (13 min)
  • Special Messages to Roger (15 min)
  • Trailer

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