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Anchor Bay presents
Running Time (1998)

"What else could possibly go wrong?"
- Patrick (Jeremy Roberts)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: December 26, 2000

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Jeremy Roberts, Anita Barone
Other Stars: Stan Davis, Art LaFleur, Gordon Noice
Director: Josh Becker

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence, language, sex)
Run Time: 01h:05m:34s
Release Date: November 16, 1999
UPC: 013131098990
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AB+B+ B+

DVD Review

The perfect heist. It's been the theme of many films, books, and other forms of entertainment fordecades. I guess the romantic luster of being able to steal a couple million cleanly and withoutconsequences is the ultimate fantasy. In Josh Becker's Running Time, this theme isexplored in a unique and adept way.

Carl (Bruce Campbell) is getting out of prison. His good behavior and kissing-up to the wardenhas earned him an early release. The minute he gets out, though, he's already got another robberyplanned. He hooks up with his friend Patrick (Jeremy Roberts) and they immediately set out tocommit the theft with two other fellows. Unfortunately, a few snags get into their plan and,before they realize it, the scheme goes awry. Carl is forced into a difficult situation where he mustnot only make important life choices, but also figure out a way to escape capture for his newestcrime.

Running Time is a taut thriller that not only unfolds in real time, but also stands as only thesecond film in history to be presented in a single, continuous shot (the first being AlfredHitchcock's Rope in 1948). Now, this doesn't mean the film was done in one take; itmeans that there are no cut-aways, alternate angles, or any other similar technique. The trick isthat whenever you have to insert an edit (since filming a movie in one take is unrealistic), you doit in a place where it won't be noticed. In Hitchcock's Rope this was accomplished byending cuts by focusing on still objects or darkness. Becker uses similar technique, disguising hisedits in very clever ways.

Be assured, though, that Running Time is not just a 'gimmick' film. The story and dramaitself is quite interesting, and the fact that it's played out in such urgent, real-time settings makes itall the more involving. Bruce Campbell is in great form here as the slick Carl; easily his bestnon-Evil Dead performance. Also worthy of mention is how Becker manipulates the filminto something with heart and humor (basically the story of how Carl re-develops a relationshipwith his high school girlfriend), rather than just some kind of ultra-violent thriller with no realpoint or message. Perhaps the best praise I can offer the film is that it feels wholly satisfying. Itdoesn't overdo the style aspect at all; rather, it simply uses it as the framework.

While a 70-minute running time (no pun intended) might seem thin, it works well with thisconcept. The 'continuous shot' aspect does not overstay its welcome and the pace is kept freshand rewarding. With all sorts of over-hyped, low-budget, independent movies getting way morepress than they deserve, Running Time's relative obscurity is disheartening, because it'san earnestly entertaining and superbly managed piece of work.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame, black and white image is accurate to the original aspect ratio and, for the most part, looks as itshould. The whole film is extremely grainy and harsh, but this seems an intentional, stylistic moveto add some 'grit' to the film. The source print is a little dirty anddamaged, but surprisingly, this actually adds to the film. Other than some minor instances ofshimmering in large patches of dark grey (walls and such), the disc is free of any kind of digitalinterference. The film runs at a near-constant 10mbps bitrate, most likely helping the transferalong.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: For a basic mono mix, the soundtrack is surprisingly clean and vibrant. Joseph LoDuca's musicalscore stands out very well, and dialogue and sound effects are all easily audible and clear. Monofits the film quite well and anything else, like a 5.1 mix, wouldn't really have anything to build on,since the film is primarily dialogue.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Josh Becker and Bruce Campbell
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The Josh Becker/Bruce Campbell commentary is a lot of fun and mostly consists of productionanecdotes. Similar to the commentary they give on Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except, thediscussion is mainly focused on behind-the-scenes stories and entertaining revelations about wherethings were filmed.

The original trailer is featured as well, and the presentation is fairly nice. Menus are well themedto the 'clock' style of the film's opening credits; the disc has some nice art on it, and the minimalistbox design fits the movie quite well, giving away nothing about the film's inner details.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Well worth the effort to see, Running Time makes a good rental and a definite purchasefor fans of Bruce Campbell or Josh Becker. Highly recommended.


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