Beautiful Losers (Arthouse Films) (2008)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 21-Oct-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Theatrical Trailer-(2.21)
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 90:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Aaron Rose
Joshua Leonard
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Thomas Campbell
Shepard Fairey
Jo Jackson
Chris Johanson
Margaret Kilgallen
Harmony Korine
Geoff McFetridge
Barry McGee
Mike Mills
Stephen Powers II
Claire E. Rojas
Aaron Rose
Case Slip Case
RPI $34.95 Music Money Mark


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Beautiful Losers of this film are not devotees of the Leonard Cohen novel of the same name though they just as well might be. A group of disparate artists who inhabited New York in the 90s, described pithily as "a gaggle of slackers" by Time Out, these artists took influence from youth culture and the streets to make something fresh and new.

The names may not be well known but the art is reflected in the streets of any major city. These "losers", some who stayed very true to their roots, like filmmaker Harmony Korine who is just as twisted now as in the 90s, to Mike Mills who turned his off films into art then commercial art, making music videos and high profile advertising campaigns. Then there was Margaret Kilgallen, sadly deceased for almost a decade now, who drew on folk art and urban scrawl to create her distinctive imagery.

Beautiful Losers is an introduction to the artists and a summary of their work. It shows a group of outsiders who banded together through a love of youth culture, punk music, skateboarding and graffiti. Few were art school trained yet all had, and still have, a distinctive voice.

Where the film succeeds is in letting the artists speak for themselves flanked by some of their interesting works. There is a real shaggy dog charm to these artists each working so far removed from the establishment that they hardly know how to buck it. It also fails on the same score as the artists are, by and large, not the most articulate of people. Interesting, just not informative. That is not a big surprise but it would have been nice to have some independent sense of the importance of the artists. To really succeed the film needed a precise structure and perhaps even a voice-over as a point of reference. Instead it has the Beautiful Loser cool aesthetic written all over it.

Still, as an introduction to a crazy, but now ageing bunch, it is well worth a watch.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Beautiful Losers was shot on digital video at a native widescreen aspect ratio. The 1.78: ratio has been preserved for this DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

All in all this is a perfectly decent transfer. There is nothing remarkable about it and yet there are no real deficiencies. The colours are pretty stable and the flesh tones accurate. It is as sharp as digital film can be.

There are no compression issues and the level of digital noise is held pretty well in check.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Beautiful Losers carries an English Dolby Digital soundtrack running at 224Kb/s.

This is adequate for this film. The film really consists of music and talking heads. The latter are largely fine but there are times when the voices are difficult to hear (slackers are meant to mumble!). This can create problems due to the lack of subtitles but I suspect that the few missing words weren't all that significant.

The music is a mix of punk tunes and random bits and pieces.

Everything appears to be in audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

A trailer which gives a pretty good guide to the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Beautiful Losers has been released in a similar format in Region 1. The limited information I came across suggests it has a 5.1 soundtrack but I cannot confirm this.

Summary

    Beautiful Losers is worth seeing just to realise the pervasive influence of street art and the can-do spirit or a bunch of free-thinkers. It is unhelpful as an educational piece due to the structure and presentation of the film but those keen on the artists will probably absorb this approach.

The DVD quality is fine. The trailer makes a poor extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE