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Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/28/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/14/2017
When I think of an art film, I think of a movie which offers a miniscule plot and focuses on the visuals. (This should not be confused with a movie which offers "style over substance", where we find strong visuals paired with an OK story.) Art movies are definitely an acquired taste, as those who like a strong, detailed script may find the ides of living through the pictures bewildering. However, if done right, such as the films of David Lynch, and select portions of Terence Malick's work, an art movie can succeed. But, when things go awry, the result go be a movie fails on all fronts.
Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) lives in California amongst the Redwoods. She works at a marijuana dispensary with Keith (Pilou Asbaek). As the film opens, Theresa uses marijuana laced with a chemical to help her mother, who is apparently ill, commit suicide. Theresa appears to be in a relationship with Nick (Joe Cole), but she is also with Johnny (Jack Kilmer) at times. When an attempt to do another assisted suicide backfires, Theresa is very depressed.
The above plot synopsis is the story of Woodshock as far as I can tell, but that's not really what we get in the movie. What we get is -- Theresa gives her mom a poisoned joint, Theresa walks amongst the trees, Theresa goes to work, Theresa goes to a party, Theresa walks around in her underwear, Theresa smokes a lot of pot, Theresa walks amongst the trees again, Theresa vomits, Theresa walks around in her underwear again, and Theresa floats. Seriously, this is what we get with the movie.
So, let's not beat around the bush and ask, "What is the point of this movie?" At the outset, I had wondered if the movie was going to be about assisted suicide. This is clearly a part of the "story", but it's not the main theme. Ostensibly, this is a drama which traces Theresa's grief over her mother's death, but this is not conveyed very well. The second attempt at a suicide sort of makes the movie a thriller, but, trust me, it is not thrilling. As discussed in the opening, Woodshock becomes a movie which relies on its visuals.
The film was written and directed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy, fashion designers who own the company Rodarte. They may be good at fashion (as far as we know), but storytelling certainly isn't their forte. In their attempt to make a minimalist film, they have decided to limit character development and dialogue, and the goal is clearly to convey emotion and story through the visuals. In the beginning, this is easy, as we can tell that Theresa is sad, but things quickly get murky and the movie devolves into scene after scene of Kirsten Dunst rolling joints and showing off lingerie. That second part made sound interesting to some viewers, but, trust me, it's boring. Even as a short, Woodshock would be a chore, but slogging through 100 minutes of this is sheer torture. Even the most patient admirers of art films will most likely find this tedious. Other than some interesting uses of color, even the visuals aren't very arresting. The Mulleavy's aren't the first fashion designers to experiment with filmmaking, but I wish that they would leave feature-filmmaking to the professionals.
Woodshock did nothing to change my stance that you'd have to be high to live in the forest on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The movies does feature several moments where we get grain and TV static lines on the screen. These appear to be intentional, as I think they are supposed to symbolize Theresa's state of mind, but it certainly looks like a problem with the transfer. The colors look very good, most notably the big neon leaf in the store window, but the image is somewhat dark in some shots. The picture is a bit soft at times, but the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The Disc provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get a lot of ambient sound here, and it fills the front and rear channels. It's not overly loud, but it's there. We get some mild subwoofer during the hallucinatory sequences.
The Woodshock Blu-ray Disc contains only one extra feature. "Making Woodshock: A Mental Landscape" (13 minutes) is an in-depth interview with Writers/Directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy. The duo discuss the making of film, discussing their ideas and visions. They then talk about the characters and the actors, as well as the look and sound of the film.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long