Monday, February 6, 2012

DVD Review - 5 Star Day

Cam Gigandet in "5 Star Day"
Back in November 2011, when it was released for a limited theatrical run, I reviewed 5 Star Day. What I forgot to mention in that review is that it's about four people who were all born on the same date. In the movie, that date is February 6, 1982, and, if it weren't for the fact that most DVDs are released on Tuesdays, this DVD would have been released on February 6, 2012, exactly thirty years after the birth of its characters. Unfortunately, Feb. 6, 2012, falls on a Monday, so this DVD is being made available Feb. 7.

5 Star Day is available now via Video on Demand through cable subscribers or Amazon, iTunes, and even through Facebook, so if you wanted to watch on Feb. 6, you could. Yet, if you did, you wouldn't have access to the DVD's special features, which I will now briefly review.

The movie stars Cam Gigandet. Some might recall him from his roles as the sexy bad guy in Never Back Down (2008) and Twilight (2008). Some may also remember him as the eye-candy opposite Christina Aguilera in Burlesque (2010).

Gigandet plays Jake Gibson, a grad student who's writing a thesis on horoscopes and for his final presentation he decides to focus on people who not only share his horoscope but also share his exact birth day. He falls in love with one of those people, a single mom, named Sarah Reynolds, played by Jena Malone.

Malone is young but she's been acting since she was a little girl and she's made a name for herself in the independent film community. She's also been in a ton of studio films from Stepmom (1998), along side Julia Roberts, to the recent action flick, Sucker Punch, directed by Zack Snyder who's become a bit of a celebrity filmmaker.

Danny Buday, who isn't a celebrity filmmaker, at least not yet, directs 5 Star Day. Under the audio setup, you can access the DVD commentary by Buday and his cinematographer, Jason Oldak. Being that this is the first feature-length film, shot on actual 35mm film, for both, the commentary is a good way of getting to know them.

What I liked is that aside from learning what school Buday attended we also get a sense of what kind of person Buday is. At the beginning, Buday lets slip a curse word but he immediately apologizes for it. He talks about the guerilla-style filmmaking he employed to get this 5-city movie made. He also talks about having no permits, needing to steal shots on Chicago's El train or on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and yet still accomplishing movie magic.

When Buday speaks of these things, it's with a giddiness, a kind of glee. He clearly wasn't too daunted. If anything, Buday was excited. Running around from place-to-place, doing slightly illegal things and operating on-the-fly was exciting for Buday and certainly fun. Making this movie, he was clearly like a kid in a candy store.

In addition to learning how Malone is a consummate pro and being good at improv, the DVD commentary relates how Gigandet has a James Dean quality. We learn some tidbits about the other co-stars. Brooklyn Sudano is the daughter of a famous disco singer and Max Hartman, who has a genuine Frank Sinatra vibe, is a real lounge singer who shares real incidents about his life on camera as well as his real music. We also get how all the actors shine in Buday's preferred method of acting, which is without dialogue and more subtext.

A 25-minute featurette of non-narrated behind-the-scenes footage, a 3-minute photo gallery set to the movie's end credit song, "Satellite" by Guster, and a 7-minute deleted scenes section, consisting of five sequences that were cut, round-out the DVD's special features. What is outstanding though is Buday's 22-minute short film, Dependency, which is also included here.

The short film was Buday's thesis project, prior to getting his Master's degree at the American Film Institute, which he did in 2005. Dependency takes us into the increasingly fractured perspective and mind of the lead of an up-and-coming rock band. It features songs apparently written by Buday and is proof that Buday is going to be a great filmmaker.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time - Film: 1 hr. and 37 mins.
Running Time - Special Features: 65 mins.

1 comment:

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