on December 7, 2005
This is a long-overdue DVD collection assembling the work of one of America's true hidden treasures, documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee. McElwee, a genteel Southern neurotic (think Woody Allen meets Tennessee Williams) has essentially been documenting his personal life since the mid 70's and managed to turn all those thousands of feet of footage into some of the most simultaneously original, hilarious, moving, thought-provoking and entertaining films that most people have never seen. Audiences weaned on the glut of "reality TV" of recent years may shrug thier shoulders and say "what's the big deal about one more schmuck making glorified home movies?" but they would be missing an enriching glimpse into the human condition. In addition to a couple of McElwee's more rarely screened early works- his debut "Backyard" and "Charleen", you get two bonifide classics about the eternal search for love and acceptance-"Sherman's March" and its unofficial "sequel", "Time Indefinite" plus his masterful meditation on the random cruelty of fate, "Six O'Clock News". NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS: First let me tell you that I own two DVD players-one is a standard Region 1, and the other an "all region". Here is what I have experienced with the film "Bright Leaves" (McElwee's most recent film included in the box). Straight and simple-IT DOES NOT PLAY. This is my conclusion after renting 2 (that is TWO) different copies of the "stand alone" release by this studio from my local video store. Neither one played past the FBI Warning (on EITHER of my 2 players). I also RENTED this boxed set as opposed to purchasing, because I was wary, and sure enough, the version of "Bright Leaves" included in the box set ALSO DOES NOT PLAY. I hope someone from the releasing studio reads this and addresses this obvious problem. It's keeping this eager consumer from investing in the box set, as much as I would love to own it. Have any other Amazon reviewers encountered this issue?
on January 25, 2006
Ross McElwee is the Gold Standard of personal film documentarians. His low tech approach (he's a one-man operation) allows him easy access to a scene that might otherwise be distracted or compromised by a crew. But what makes his films memorable is his kind-hearted, dead-pan wit.
This collection is a great film school for aspiring documentarians now that digital technology has made his method available to practically everyone. He shows how focusing on the mundane aspects of life add up, illuminating the profound.
BTW, to reviewer D.Hartley, all my disks, which I bought through Amazon.com, play with no problem.
on March 2, 2014
A few months ago I came across an article about Ross McElwee's film, Photographic Memory. I had never seen any of his films and the article inspired me to learn more about Ross and his process. Ultimately, I found Sherman's March on NetFlix in the DVD only area and also found this collection on Amazon. I put Sherman's March in my queue and ordered the collection. I have since watched all the films in the collection and am happy to report them all to be more than worthy of viewing. Ross's use of the 16mm camera as a third eye or buffer between the film maker and his subjects creates intimate, charming, loving portraits in a slow, almost real time fashion. In the process, the viewer learns much about the subjects, but little about the film maker. I highly recommend this collection to any film buff, documentary lover, cinema student or movie goer.