Corman's World (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus has fun with this Roger Corman Documentary on Blu-ray disc..
This wonderful documentary about the history and influence of the often disregarded director Roger Corman arrives on Blu-ray. Featuring a look back at Corman's career, his 300+ movies and the generation of Hollywood talent he helped along the way, we get a deeper understanding of Corman's influence as well as an inside look at his B movie legacy.
From the start (and not at all like I expected from this documentary) is fun with a capital 'F'. We start with a brief look at the making of one of Corman's modern productions Dinoshark and an overview of the filmmaker's status as 'King of the Bs' in the low budget arena. However it's when the documentary reaches back in Corman's long spanning career that things really get interesting.
When we discover that this director/producer had a large hand in bringing Hollywood royalty to our cinema screens and in many ways forming the foundations of sixties and seventies cinema the momentum of this documentary really picks up. The line up here is astounding. Corman gave Jack Nicholson his first starring role in Crybaby Killer (and pretty much kept casting him for the next ten years), he gave William Shatner a big break. Peter Fonda changed his career via Corman movies that hit subjects like The Hell's Angels and drug use head on in a time that the industry was avoiding the darker subjects of its society. Corman produced Martin Scorsese’s first movie Boxcar Bertha and let Ron Howard direct his first feature Grand Theft Auto. Honestly, the list goes on and on and despite the fact Corman largely played to the youth market (a market big studios were missing at the time) and his movies sat comfortably in drive ins, by the time the seventies came around his group of friends were there to step in and form a new wave in Hollywood, even though Corman himself fell into the grindhouse fillers and exploitation movement (that were still big hits).
This is a truly enjoyable piece. With all the participants from Corman's past giving honest and personal accounts from their work with him. Jack Nicholson is as cool as ever and there's a genuine admiration for Corman that isn't something you always see in Jack. Ron Howard is wonderfully upbeat and funny and really, not one of the participants in this documentary fails at providing a warm view of Corman's work, even with some of the movies he made not being all that good.
This really was an alternative look at Hollywood in the 60s and 70s but if all of this documentary is to be believed, it's not an all that alternative look but a study of a history that isn't celebrated as one that gave us our big stars. There are ups and downs of the movie business, inspiring comments for young filmmakers and a look at the negative side of what Jaws and Star Wars did to independent cinema in the late seventies (and beyond). We get to see how Corman was doing things other directors were not (for better or worse) and how his love of film kept him going on his own terms. This is incredibly interesting stuff that leads up to his lifetime achievement award at a special Oscar’s ceremony in his honour. This is heartwarming and full of personal moments and a history of film that should be celebrated (even if re-watching most of the Corman films aren’t part of that celebration).
To keep it simple, Corman's World looks like what it is. An HD documentary. There’s nothing all that special about the presentation and it’s not unlike most TV or film documentaries out there. This is simple stuff, intercut with clips from Corman's films in various levels of quality. The image is generally bright and only a little soft from time to time. Exterior Hollywood shots look flash and crisp and the Dinoshark scenes look sun lit and pretty too but these are small moments in a largely routine looking documentary.
Once again, there's nothing to get excited about here. The track is simply dialogue mixed with the odd piece of lively music. From time to time the music will add a bit of thumpy bass but this is a documentary folks, this is simple stuff and the disc handles it all well enough.
The 'Extended Interviews' (13:10 HD) add a bit more to what we see in the documentary and the 'Special Messages to Roger' (15:15 HD) have a few more direct messages to the filmmaker from some of the participants in the film. Lastly there's the trailer (02:06 HD).
Corman's World certainly made me appreciate Corman a whole lot more. His Hollywood legacy is one to be celebrated and this documentary did a fine job at highlighting that. I may not like a lot of his recent Sci-Fi Channel attempts (and I seem to have reviewed most of them) and I'm not inclined to go back and revisit his vast back catalogue but this film reminded me that its ok to have low budget fun at the movies sometimes and that's never a bad thing.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 26th March 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Extended Interviews, Special Messages to Roger, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Alex Stapleton
Cast: Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, William Shatner, David Carradine, Eli Roth, Paul W.S. Anderson, Pam Grier, Bruce Dern, Peter Fonda, Brett Ratner, Jonathan Demme, Roger Corman, Joe Dante
Length: 90 minutes
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