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Genius Products presents
"I go with the flow. That's my motto. Otherwise you snap like a toothpick."
DVD ReviewThat's one stinky piece of cover art for this one, if you ask me.
It does absolutely nothing to convey the joyfully odd relationships that writer/director Tom DiCillo fills Delirious with, all assembled with seamy layers of dark, unspoken personal baggage. Instead, the cover makes this look like an attempt at wacky voyeur comedy, instead of what it really is: a smart satirical jab at paparazzi, celebrity, and the fear of loneliness. DiCillo—the guy responsible for indie favorites Johnny Suede and Living in Oblivion—piles on a heaping pile of slightly flawed but engaging characters, all of whom in some way revolve around the peaceful glow of homeless actor Toby Grace (Michael Pitt).
A DiCillo favorite, Steve Buscemi—as grubby paparazzi Les Galantine—would appear, at first glance, to be the focal point in Delirious. Buscemi's Les is coarse and swears like a sailor, and though he would rather be referred to as a "licensed professional", he's just a two-bit paparazzi whose biggest claim to fame (according to him) is getting a shot of Elvis Costello without his hat on, followed closely by a pic of Goldie Hawn eating lunch.
His involvement with Toby begins as a simple favor, and eventually progresses into a complicated professional relationship that becomes increasingly troubled. An actor like Buscemi never really seems to be acting; he's one of those performers who always gives any film he's in a kick in the pants (yes, even Armageddon), and his character here seems like an ugly but natural extension of someone we've seen him play before. And I mean that in a good way.
Even with the mounds of great dialogue Buscemi gets, Michael Pitt steals Delirious as the doe-eyed 20-something drifter Toby. He's ridiculously kind (as well as handy), and his youthful appreciation at being offered a closet to sleep in only means he will repay that favor tenfold. Like a faithful puppy, he takes all kinds of verbal lickings from Les, yet comes back with a smile. Pitt, looking a little like a slightly cleaner Kurt Cobain, is spot-on perfect with this role, and contributes a seemingly effortless performance that moves with an easy, natural cadence. It's impossible to hate this guy (unless you're Les), and Pitt manages the difficult task of becoming an equal to the always fascinating Buscemi.
The drama and comedy becomes a little more complicated when troubled Britney-esque singer K'harma Leeds (Alison Lohman) enters the story. She too falls under the spell of Toby in her own way, and their relationship dredges up a new set of problems for everyone involved. Lohman, who seems to look younger every time I see her in a film, is a pampered and bitchy angel, but one with a blob of hidden sweetness. And it's that sweet inner whatever-she-has that Lohman uses to drive K'harma around with, full of both low-cut sexiness and girl-next-door beauty. This is one of those roles that could have been played broad, as a caricature, yet Lohman humanizes it all and effectively nails the inner workings of the complicated singer.
There's a nice mix of neatly weird supporting players (David Wain, Callie Thorne, Kevin Corrigan), as well as a cameo role by Elvis Costello, which leads to a great exchange between him and Buscemi. The rip on paparazzi is what DiCillo has built the framework of Delirious around, but when these interesting characters he has come up begin intersecting and interacting I wouldn't have really cared what they were doing. I liked these people—warts and all—and DiCillo pulls the performances together into a tight, fun package that mocks celebrity and those who live in its glittery shadow.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
Image Transfer Review: Delirious comes from Genius in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. A bit grainy in spots, but colors and fleshtones look bright and natural, and given the modest budget this one looks pretty solid, despite some soft edges. The print has no evidence of nicks or scratches.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a fairly plain Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Not much in the way of flash here, but DiCillo's frequent use of rock tunes (like the opening Dandy Warhols tune) sounds nicely full-bodied, while dialogue retains an even clarity throughout.
Nothing extraordinary, but more than serviceable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Grace Is Gone, Watching The Detectives, Flakes, I Want Somebody To Eat Cheese With
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Tom DiCillo
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Extras Review: Slipcase lovers (if that's your bag) unite, because Genius has issued Delirious with one. The disc itself carries the film's theatrical trailer, as well as handful of other quirky titles.
The principle goodie, however, is a Tom DiCillo commentary track, where the writer/director weaves a steady, unexpurgated stream of background info, from budget problems to script rewrites to the care given to casting secondary characters. He refers to the film as a "contemporary fable," and cites cinematic influences like Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night. The big tweaks of Buscemi's character that DiCillo had to do to get the actor to take part reveal a much darker angle, one that Buscemi referred to as "too creepy." Imagine that.
There's DiCillo-and-Buscemi-on-the-street featurette entitled Stalking Delirious (14m:51s), with the pair wandering New York, discussing the film, their long professional relationship and friendship, as well as the project and its development. There's a funny bit where they come across some actual paparazzi staking out a celebrity somewhere, and Buscemi gets to joke around with some really large equipment.
The full-length version of the sexy Shove It music video (03m:37s) that is featured briefly in the film has Alison Lohman as K'harma in skimpy, skimpy clothes, singing and dancing in a boxing ring. It's actually a neatly subtle parody (written by DiCillo) of what I like to call "crap dance/pop," and Lohman sells it perfectly. And she's purty.
The strength of the DiCillo commentary and the Lohman video are the jewels here, making the problematic set of promotional shorts not so troublesome. For whatever reason, the three shorts didn't seem to play properly on three different players, so I'm not sure if I was missing something. From what I could make out, they sound more like pranks than promos, and not all that interesting, either. Your mileage may vary.
The disc is cut into a skimpy 12 chapters, and features no subtitle options.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsSteve Buscemi does what he does so well here—all wiry, edgy, and foul-mouthed—but it's the charismatic performances of Michael Pitt and Alison Lohman that easily tip the scales on this one. All of the oddball characters (flawed or otherwise) are entertaining, and Tom DiCillo's dialogue is satirical, caustic, and funny.
I hated to see this one end. Where the hell is the soundtrack album?
An under-the-radar title to be sure (and one of my favorites of 2008), but consider it highly recommended.
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