[box cover]

Point of View

The idea of the "interactive movie" — a film that could combine the fun of moviegoing and repeat business of video-game playing — has been floating around for decades, but though video games have successfully become more and more cinematic, films trying for interactivity don't make viewers come back for more: 1985's Clue and 1995's Mr. Payback were box office disasters, perhaps because audiences felt cheated that they couldn't see the whole thing, perhaps because the films themselves weren't very good. But with DVD (and seamless branching), film interactivity has become a tangible reality, and one of the few people pioneering interactive DVD movies is director David Wheeler: he made 1997's Tender Loving Care and is at it again with 2001's Point of View. Unfortunately, his films are more intriguing in premise than in execution, leaving DVD interactivity a gimmick best left for porn. Point of View is broken into twelve chapters, with only the first chapter permanent; after each chapter the DVD quizzes the viewer on how they feel about topics like voyeurism, lesbianism, and alienation: the disc then changes the story based on your preferences. As it unfolds — no matter how you feel — certain elements hold: Jane (Stephanie Von Pfetten), an ex-model with a shady past, is voyeuristically intrigued by her neighbor Frank (Chris Bradford): she covertly photographs him, and even watches him go at it with another woman; Jane has a coworker with a personal-ad pen-pal (Paul Jarret), but after the co-worker meets him she disappears — Jane goes to police about it and is harassed by the stalker-like pen-pal. Other elements of the film shift according to your tastes: if you fancy lesbian action then the film shows Jane in bed with one of Frank's lovers; if you distrust the police, the policeman figures more into the climax; how you react to voyeurism decides if Jane is more villain or victim. But the problem with Point of View is that good movies build to their conclusions, and they have connective tissues throughout that forge a single viewpoint (e.g., a directorial vision); any film that can easily change that point of view isn't going to make the viewer feel satisfied — even the multi-viewpoint films Rashomon and Run Lola Run knew that. Though the DVD is clever (you can examine some of the characters feelings at the end of each chapter through little interviews with them, and can read clues a la supplemental materials), since there are different versions, no one version feels like it's the best, making it more interesting to try and find the variations. But then, since the changes are minor, there's no point in finding them all because the film isn't good enough to sustain the multiple viewings it would take. The actors are surprisingly not bad for the obviously limited budget, but the film is shot on digital video and has a Casio-style soundtrack. It looks like porn without the skin. The video looks sharp some of the time in this anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1), while other parts have bad digital artifacts. Audio is in monaural 2.0. "Making-of" short, trailer. Keep-case.
—DSH



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