Fast Food Fast Women (2000)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Trailer-Nine Queens; Rain; Samsara; Satin Rouge
Trailer-The Tracker; Till Human Voices Wake Us
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||91:23 (Case: 96)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Amos Kollek|
Robert X. Modica
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Fast Food Fast Women is what could affectionately be called an "art house" movie. It is best therefore to approach this movie with your expectations of entertainment appropriately set.
The film consists of two main story threads. The first thread is the search for love by Bella (Anna Thomson), a thirty-four year old waitress in a typical New York diner. Bella is about to turn thirty-five and is becoming impatient with her long-running relationship with the married George (played by Austin Pendleton - A Beautiful Mind, Oz). She is set up on a blind date, thanks to her overbearing mother (Judith Roberts), with the taxi-driving, would-be writer Bruno (an occasionally stilted performance from Jamie Harris). Their relationship is complicated when, following the advice of a friend, Bella tells Bruno that she cannot stand children. This is in fact the opposite of the truth - Bella is keen to settle down and have a family - but she believes that this is scaring men away. Unfortunately for Bella, Bruno has recently come into the possession of two children from a failed previous relationship. This story simply does not satisfy as it is badly flawed from the outset. Anna Thomson was around 40 years old when she played this part - and she looks much older. She appears to have had some significant cosmetic surgery, her collagen bloated lips are revolting and she is so skeletal she makes Calista Flockhart look obese. Quite how a waitress would have afforded such obvious surgery is conveniently ignored. If ever there was a miscast part...this is it.
Interwoven with Bella's story, the second plot thread is much more satisfying, featuring some great acting, some touching characters and a genuinely thought-provoking and novel storyline. Paul is a widow, who has been without a female companion for quite some time and is desperately seeking a new love. Robert Modica plays Paul in an utterly believable way, and the quality of his acting is surpassed only by the outstanding Louise Lasser (Requiem for a Dream, Happiness). Lasser plays Emily, who meets Paul after he answers her advertisement in the "Lonely Hearts" section of the newspaper. The relationship is genuine and touching. Paul is scared to commit to Emily although he loves her from the outset, as he fears he may not be able to satisfy her physical needs. Emily seeks solace in the arms of a younger man (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) actually the taxi-driving Bruno, hurt and confused by Paul's rejection of her physical advances. This story really does make you think about older people as sexual beings, as in need of love and affection as anyone else. It is poignant, very well written, and delightfully acted. The sixty year-old Lasser exudes more sexuality in a single scene than Thomson can muster for the entire movie.
Curiously, Fast Food Fast Women is frequently referred to as a comedy. Whilst it does contain some black humour, for me the film is much more of a character study, with more than a hint of melancholy. The dialogue is frequently delivered in a very faltering style, which lends the film the air of a theatrical play on occasion. Despite the horrendous miscasting of Anna Thomson, the film retrieves itself slightly due to the polished performances of Modica and Lasser as the ageing couple. The ending is somewhat unbelievable and does not fit with the tone of the movie - it feels rushed. This may be worth a purchase for collectors of Kollek's work, but otherwise is worthy of a rental only for the great performances of the two older leads.
The overall video transfer of this disc is good bar one significant flaw.
The film is presented at 1.78:1, very close to its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 and it has been 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is reasonably sharp but with the occasional lapse in focus, and some grain evident throughout. Shadow detail is generally good and blacks are deep and solid with no low-level noise detected.
Colours are occasionally oversaturated, but colour bleeding was not significant. This may have been a deliberate choice on the part of the director, to lend an air of "hyper-realism" to the New York night-time locations. Skin tones are good.
The transfer suffers from MPEG artefacts. As well as some occasional posterization, there is frequent and distracting digital smearing throughout the movie. This gives a "plasticine" distortion on the actors faces where the skin seems to move independently of the skeleton, which is both disturbing and distracting. It is particularly noticeable on a larger screen, but less so on smaller displays. For a great example, see Bella's face at 66:58. The effect is also very noticeable on the various paintings seen in Bella's apartment, for example at 13:23, where the image seems to move inside the picture frame. The effect reminds me of the first time I bought a Loewe 100Hz television and hadn't quite managed to get the various digital management control options fully sorted out. The transfer can still be enjoyed but, once noticed, this artefact is strong enough to irritate.
Film-to-video artefacts are fairly minor and not worthy of comment. Aliasing, although present, was not a significant issue, and edge enhancement was fairly minor. Telecine wobble is very noticeable during the credit sequences and mildly apparent during the feature (for example at 48:27 where the film visibly jumps).
The transfer is largely free from film artefacts, with a few very fleeting specks to be seen. These are not distracting.
There are no subtitle tracks present.
This is an RSDL disc, but the layer change was undetectable. I assume it is placed between the main feature and the extras.
The overall audio quality of this disc is good, with no audible defects.
There is a single audio track. The film has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack recorded in English at 448 kbps.
Dialogue was always clear. Audio sync was never a problem.
The original music is credited to David Carbonara (The Guru) and does an acceptable job in evoking a melancholy mood. There are also nice jazz tunes used, and a couple of the compositions were written and performed by one John Carbonara - nepotism at work I wonder?
The surround channels were lightly used for music and ambient effects, with the subwoofer barely noticeable, to yield a very frontal soundscape. A 5.1 soundtrack is simply not needed for such a heavily dialogue-driven film.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a few short extras on this disc.
The initial menu is a static photograph without musical accompaniment. It offers the choice of extra features or the selection of one of twenty-one chapter stops.
Presented full frame (and therefore not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at 192 kbps, this fairly short (18:10) feature allows the director and several of the cast to provide their insight on the film. I found this to be much better than the usual back-slapping reel. There is a digital tape dropout at 0:45.
Running for 1:39 and presented full frame, non 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack recorded at 192 kbps.
An excellent collection of trailers with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack recorded at 224 kbps which really whets the appetite for these other Madman releases:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Details on the Region 1 version of this film are scarce, however from the available information it appears to miss the Behind the Scenes footage and has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. If this is the case, then the Region 4 disc would appear to be the version of choice.
Fast Food Fast Women is a tolerable movie. The wonderful acting of Louise Lasser and the touching relationship between Paul and Emily makes it worth watching once. It is let down by the poor casting of Anna Thomson and some stilted dialogue delivery. If only the story had focused more on the older, and less on the younger couple it could have been great.
The video quality is flawed with some noticeable digital artefacts.
The audio quality is acceptable but very frontal and a little uninspiring.
The extras are few but quite worthwhile.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|