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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Groove
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 7, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Groove" made waves earlier this year with stories of the film's difficulty in finding enough cash to get the movie produced; eventually I believe they even went to some .com companies to get enough cash - and with the .com status, they were probably just in time. The picture that it seems to be most often compared to is, understandably, "Go", which I still consider one of 1999's best pictures. Where "Go" used the rave scene as only a small part of the overall movie, "Groove" revolves around a group of characters who put on one of these raves in an abandoned warehouse in San Fransisco.

And, although I can't say I know a lot about raves or ever have been, the movie works more as a documentary about them than it does really a character study. I liked to see the planning involved, I liked the music, I liked that the film introduces some popular DJs, and I liked little things like how the characters creatively dealt with the police during one scene where an officer comes by.

The one thing that didn't quite work for me in the movie was really the characters, although that's not an across-the-board complaint. Where the characters in "Go" seemed more energetic and fully-realized with John August's screenplay, the characters in "Groove" seem to not be as important as the atmosphere, which I suppose I can understand, but can't really agree with - there are some good actors, who aren't used terribly well. Even if the film is only a quick burst at 86 minutes, there could have been more interaction. There really isn't a great deal of story or introduction - the movie really seems to bring us into the middle of things.

I didn't dislike the film though, I put it more in the catagory of "workable". Writer/Director Greg Harrison certainly seems knowlegeable about the "rave" community, and rather than a rave film with characters that aren't that well-defined, I'd rather have seen a documentary with the real people, who seem like more "characters" than some of the characters in "Groove". There are some good performances in the movie from some actors who are relatively new, such as Lola Glaudini and Mackenzie Firgens, who both give good performances.

Although I don't agree with some things about the rave community, such as the drug use, I do find some aspects of it very interesting, such as the way it seems to embrace technology and the way it looks as some of these DJ's as celebs. Above that, the wild costumes and looks are also cool. It's a society worth an interesting exploration, but I don't think "Groove" quite tells the whole story, even if it does make a fair attempt.


VIDEO: The film does have a rather low-budget origin, but as to be expected from Columbia/Tristar, they've done a fantastic job with the presentation. There are some little problems here and there, but all in all, the picture quality looks great. The rave scenes look especially wonderful, with good detail even in the darkness of the dance floor, as the rich lighting washes through.

Sharpness, detail and clarity are generally pretty good; there are a few scenes that look slightly soft, but not terribly so. There aren't any instances of shimmering or pixelation, but there are a couple of moments where the picture looks a little bit grainy - but not terribly so. There are also some print flaws that pop up in the form of minor marks. These seem brief and isolated, though. Colors are rich and bold, with no problems.

For a movie that was apparently shot in 16mm, the film looks excellent. In general, the film doesn't quite look that low-budget; the rave scenes are well-done and cinematography is very good. A full-screen version is also available on the disc, accessable from the main menu.

SOUND: "Groove" sports a fantastic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that brings the viewer completely into the experience, with a wonderfully agressive soundtrack. The music often comes full-throttle from all sides, with surrounds agressively put into play with the music as well as some background sounds of people talking on occasion.

Certainly, there are times outside of the rave where the film folds up into a dialogue-driven movie, but I was really impressed with what the sound designer did with the music. Obviously, these parties are supposed to be a mixture of sound and vision, and the movie's soundtrack creatively spins the music around us, getting the viewer swept up in the experience. As to be expected from a movie like this one with the music, there is also some definite bass. Dialogue is also kept clear and easily understood, balanced nicely with the music.

MENUS:: "Groove"'s menus open well, with a main menu that's an animated version of the front cover with music in the background. Sub-menus are not animated, but are stylish and like all Tristar titles, easily navigated.


Commentary: This is a commentary track from director Greg Harrison, Producer Danielle Renfrew and Director Of Photography Matthew Irving. The documentary is very interesting, often serving as a tour guide of the kind of obstacles that had to be overcome during production, such as lack of money and some creative ways to save money and get things done quicker during filming. He also talks about the way that the local rave scene came through to help out the movie, which I found interesting to listen to.

The commentary hardly has any pauses of silence as the three participants are able to go back and forth sharing their tales of getting their "Groove" to the big screen. A few times, Harrison shares his fears about being a first-time director, and it's enjoyable to listen to what he had to go through and how the crew solved problems. Overall, I thought it was an informative commentary about how to make a low-budget picture.

Behind The Scenes: This is not a "slick" or "promotional" documentary, but a very interesting featurette that offers footage of the location that was used for the party, as well as some moments of showing how the rave party scenes were filmed.

Camera Tests: A short featurette showing in detail how some of the speed changes in "Groove" were experimented with before production by shooting footage of star Mackenzie Firgens dancing.

Deleted Scenes: 7 scenes total that are either extended or deleted scenes; they're interesting to have, but don't work in the film.

Trailers: Trailers for "Go"(Dolby Digital 5.1), which would make a good "Double Feature" with "Groove"; "The Craft"(Dolby Digital 5.1) and "Groove"(Dolby 2.0).

Casting Auditions: A short bit of footage from the casting auditions, with optional commentary from the director.

Also: Music video - "Heaven Scent" from Bedrock; Photo Gallery; Talent Files; Link To Website.

Final Thoughts: "Groove" certainly will appeal more to younger audiences; those who are into the scene or electronic music in general might find "Groove" worth a look as a rental first. If you enjoyed it in the theater, Tristar has done their usual excellent job on the DVD edition, and it's worth picking up if you're already a fan of the film.
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