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Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber, The
Peter Weir's early work is finally given it's just rewards on digital format courtesy of those folks at Home Vision in the form of a double feature of The Cars That Ate Paris and The Plumber.
The Cars That Ate Paris
The first feature on the disc is the absurdly titled The Cars That Ate Paris and it refers not to the city in France but to a small town in Weir's native Australia. The good citizens of Paris are a strange breed of scavenger, intentionally causing car crashes in the area so that they can swoop in and swipe whatever goodies may be left in the car of on the bodies of the passengers.
Enter two brothers named George and Arthur. When the Parisians rig a crash that ends up killing George, Arthur makes it out alive and somehow finds himself working as an orderly at the town hospital, unknowingly a prisoner in the town. Eventually, Arthur finds that leaving the town may prove more difficult than he initially thought, and things are about to get even more complicated when some civil unrest between different factions of the town begins to boil over.
One of Weir's earliest efforts, the film shows the promise that he would eventually live up to with efforts like Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Dead Poet's Society, but it never quite reaches the level of coherence that those two features displayed. It's not a bad movie, some of the camera work is great and there are some nice ironic twists that occur throughout, but some of the dialogue is a bit immature in a few scenes and a couple of plot holes prevent it from being as good as it could have been.
Made four years later and for Australian TV, The Plumber is a much better example of how good a director Weir can be when working with the right material.
Jill Cowper has a relatively calm and easy life, married to her husband, a doctor named Brian. Things seem great for the couple until an unfortunate incident requires that she call in a plumber to handle the repairs. As he enters her home, he also begins to enter her personal space and begins to start acting a little strange and as he does, she begins to realize how vulnerable she is. No matter how upper class she may be or how well educated she may be, none of her faculties are able to deal with this more primitive man and it begins to frighten her when his behavior continues to get bizarre.
A subtle and sneaky thriller of the best kind, The Plumber is a solid suspense filled movie that deserves a wider audience than it has. Well directed with some very convincing performances for it's cast, the reasonably quick seventy-seven minute running time goes by fast and it keeps you wanting to know what happens next. It's well worth seeking this one out.The DVD
The Cars That Ate Paris is presented in it's original 2.35.1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic television sets. Colors are solid, blacks are deep, and aside from some minor print damage and a tiny bit of noticeable edge enhancement, this transfer is rock solid. The Plumber is presented in an anamorphic 1.66.1 transfer and looks equally nice with some nice detail present throughout and accurate representation of flesh tones and shadows.Sound:
The audio on both films is sufficient enough to get the job done. Not quite as impressive as the video presentation, there are a few snaps, crackles, and pops here and there, particularly in Cars, but overall they're both satisfactory tracks and the sound effects, dialogue, and background music are well balanced and never overbearing except when they movie really calls for it.Extras:
While this isn't really stacked with tons of extras, Peter Weird does contribute on screen interviews in relation to each film. Interesting and informative without being overly academic, Weir talks about his experiences behind the camera back in the early days of his career and if you enjoyed one or both of the movies, these interviews will enrich that a little bit.Final Thoughts:
Overall this is a very nice release of some oft overlooked works from Weird. The Cars That Ate Paris is hardly a classic but it's still a pretty decent movie and worth a peek for that reason, but it's the second bill on the disc, The Plumber that really steals the show here and for that reason this disc comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.