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MGM // NC-17 // August 23, 2005
List Price: $14.94 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted September 24, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Film:
Despite its rather suggestive NC-17 rating Inserts proves to be anything but a controversial film with a steady dose of provocative acting. In fact, the only aspect of Inserts that kept my attention aroused was the fact that the always reliable Richard Dreyfuss was in it in a role that surely does not fit the artistic profile we have come to associate with him. But why was this 1975 film directed by Illinois-bred John Byrum such a controversial hit after his rather lackluster premiere?

After his glory days as a silent film director the Boy Wonder (Richard Dreyfuss) is slowly slipping under the grey clouds of amateurish porno-films. His illustrious Hollywood career as a director is a thing of the past and the hordes of young actors that would typically line to shoot films with him are now just a distant memory. Reality seems rather callous- constantly inebriated, with a temper that defies basic rationality, and a camera that is used mostly to capture the sexual escapades of unknown "actors" the Boy Wonder is in a state of "creative gridlock".

There is something unusual about Inserts!! Is it a satire, is it a dark comedy, or is this simply a pretentious attempt in avant-garde cinema? Let's see if each one of the above mentioned genres actually apply to Inserts. Yes, this is definitely a film that has plenty of suggestive satiric overtones. This is a film that could easily be regarded as a soft-spoken criticism to Hollywood and its lack of creativity (absolutely, forget about the fact that Inserts was shot in 1975). After all, where else but in Hollywood you could see a director switching "career-paths" from silent films to amateurish porno. Is this a convincing satire? I hardly think so as the only aspect I like about it is…Richard Dreyfuss' performance.

Is this a dark comedy? Well, I certainly spared a few laughs at Jessica Harper's character as she was anything but a convincing adult-retro star. Sure she was attractive but certainly not as the provocative femme fatale she was supposed to be. Or was she? If her performance was supposed to be that turning point that would convince me to see the film as a commentary on eroticism and not as anything else…well, my dear, I must have missed the point.

What about Inserts being an avant-garde attempt in edgy cinema? This one would likely get the biggest amount of votes as the film is certainly confusing and suggesting some extracurricular work to truly understand its message. Teaming Richard Dreyfyss, Bob Hoskins, and Veronica Cartwright together might seem like a good idea but when the script is as inadequate and, let's admit it, as pretentious as the one John Byrum has decided to employ quite frankly I don't know how far you could go. I think the end result is certainly far from convincing and what is even worse some precious talent has been lost in a sea of boring dialogs.

Creating a minimalist film, and I mean a good one, is certainly not an easy task. Some succeed in pushing the envelope substantially and eventually after seeing them one is bound to either love or hate them (Dogville). With other words such films spur emotions. To be honest with you Inserts belongs to the second group…the one that typically delivers dull, boring, and in all honestly uneventful productions. Now imagine that such a film has an utterly impressive cast of stars that you would expect to deliver nothing less than a masterpiece. Sadly, Inserts is neither a masterpiece nor the original art-feature it wants to be. It is simply an average film!!

How Does the Film Look? Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Inserts looks rather good. The print used by MGM does show some minor specks here and there but overall, given the age of the film and its non-mainstream status, I am surprised we are even often such a clean transfer. Occasionally there will be a tiny degree of edge enhancement as well as macro-blocking (opening chapters are the most striking example) but I am positive you would not be distracted by them. On a standard tube you are certainly not going to notice many of the above mentioned issues, viewed on via a large projector however (as I saw it) Inserts might present an issue or two.

How Does the DVD Sound? We have been given the option of having the original English Dolby Digital Mono track as well as an optional French Dub Mono track. Inserts is mostly a dialog driven film so in my opinion the audio tracks we have been provided with are more than adequate. There are optional English, French, and Spanish, subtitles.

Extras: The only bit of extra material that is found on this DVD is the original theatrical trailer for Inserts. Given the budget price that MGM is asking for this DVD I would not have expected more.

Final Thoughts: Many years ago I saw this film on a jittery VHS tape and remember being quite puzzled by it. So when I saw that a brand new transfer has been provided for this DVD I was impressed to say the least and could not wait to see it. With this said, I think that the film had much more mystique and value if you will when I saw it on that tape than now almost thirty years later. Seeing Richard Dreyfuss and Bob Hoskins in a NC-17 film was quite a treat…these days…I certainly find Inserts to be rather disappointing. Rent It.

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