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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Meantime
Meantime
Other // Unrated // June 12, 2001
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted February 11, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
British director Mike Leigh has honed a style of filmmaking that includes improvisation and long rehearsal periods and in recent years has put out such well regarded films as Secrets & Lies (1996) and Topsy-Turvy (1999). Fox Lorber has released one of his earlier films, Meantime (1981, originally produced for British TV), and the best thing that can be said is that it may be as good as those later films. The uncertainty stems from the fact that this is one of the most miserable DVDs of a film by an acclaimed director on the market. The video and audio qualities are so poor that the dialog - the key element to a Mike Leigh film - is muddy at best and totally unintelligible at worst (which is much of the time).

Featuring Tim Roth, as a mentally challenged teen, and Gary Oldman, acting like he's auditioning for Sid & Nancy, in an early pairing, Meantime is about the difficulties of life for London's East Enders during an era of high-unemployment and low-self-esteem. It's very difficult to judge the film based on its presentation here and, while I doubt another edition will be coming out any time soon, one can only hope for improvement. For a more immediate look at this era check out Julien Temple's terrific documentary on The Sex Pistols, The Filth and the Fury.

VIDEO:
The muddy, dead-looking print saps the images of any vitality. Oh yeah, and it's full-frame. And blurry. And grainy. And faded.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is totally unacceptable. The voices are tinny and the ambient sounds echo into total mush. Dialog is hard to understand, made worse by a blaring and terrible score and thick accents. No subtitles are included. If there were I probably would have muted the volume and treated the film like a silent.

EXTRAS:
There are a trailer and some credits. Amazingly, the filmographies are riddled with inaccuracies and mistakes. Release dates are wrong and Oldman is credited as having appeared in 1999's The Thin Red Line, which is totally untrue.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Meantime is an enticing package, coming from an intelligent director and sporting a strong cast, but this edition is definitely one to avoid. Sadly, a potentially interesting film is getting lost in the shuffle.

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at [email protected]
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