GO was released on DVD way back in March 2000, and it is nice to see that some four years later, the film is still just as enjoyable, even after repeated viewing. I missed the film when it was released in the UK (September 1999) and only happened to pick it up on DVD after very fortunately coming across a short, yet enthusiastic review on the net. Whilst it is not as fresh as it may have once been perceived, it still packs a punch in many different areas.
Before I take a look at the film, you will have to excuse me if I take up some of your valuable time to (if you pardon the pun) rave about the opening minute and some seconds….
The one thing that has always stayed in my mind from the very first viewing is, just how impressed I was with the title sequence, and the choice of music.
The films opening titles ‘break’ into the Columbia logo that sits at the beginning of the movie. The drone of the Columbia theme merging and mixing in with the films title music, as the title sequences rave/dance footage cuts into and back out of the Columbia logo. It’s the choice of music and the quick electric cuts that really work for me. The music is a rave version of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ - and its fantastic. The song is actually called ‘Fire Up The Shoesaw’ by Lion rock (containing These Boots Are Made For Walking). It really crawled into the back of my mind and I cannot listen to, or see the Columbia movie logo anymore, with out bursting into my own rendition of this music. That’s how infectious it is and how well this simple cut into the logo works for this film.
In just over a minute the credit sequence ends and you are briefly slap bang at the end of the movie, only to jump back to the previous day, which is where the story really begins.
Straight away you know that you are not watching a conventional Hollywood ‘teen’ movie. And after what you incorrectly fear could be the start of some dodgy acting and the beginning of a difficult 98 minutes, you suddenly realise that the fun is just about to begin.
Doug Liman (Swingers/The Bourne Identity) directs a slick, fast, entertaining, twisting tale - split into three distinct story arcs that you know will all come together at the end. It is a sharply edited, highly enjoyable black comedy, that is as dark as it is funny - and in parts it is very funny indeed.
GO was originally destined to be an independent film before Columbia picked it up for release and features a fairly unknown cast of TV ‘would be movie star’ actors. It is obvious that they used Katie Holmes’ (Dawson’s Creek/Ice Storm) name to help promote the movie. A lot of people when they hear the name GO tend to say - “oh, is that the Katie Holmes film?”. Holmes does not feature a great deal in the film, and it is through the good performances of the lesser known actors that the movie is driven. In particular Timothy Olyphant (Dreamcatcher), who plays the drug dealer and William Fichtner (Armageddon) who plays Burke. These performances alone make the film - in particular Fichtner whom I thought excelled in his role.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the film is basically 3 short films that all merge at the end. Its great to sit there and watch the three play out and the payback for your time is well invested.
Ronna - is the title of the first ‘chapter’ of this story. Ronna Martin, played by Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead), is struggling to earn some money to avoid being evicted. At the start of the film we see her trying to work as many shifts as she can in a small Supermarket. When she volunteers to cover for Simon, played by Desmond Askew (Grange Hill), who is going on a trip to Vegas, she stumbles upon the chance of making the extra money she needs. Simon is a small time drug dealer, and when two guys (Adam and Zack) come looking to score some Ecstasy , Ronna jumps at the chance of making some extra cash. With Simon out of the picture she decides to go straight to his supplier, Todd Gaines, played with real menace by Fichtner. Ronna plans on buying the drugs direct, and then on marking the price up to sell onto Adam and Zack, thus making the extra money she needs. A simple plan that slowly goes completely and horribly wrong.
Simon - is the title of the second chapter of the story. At the dramatic end of the previous segment, the film jumps back to the beginning to start all over again - only this time from Simon’s perspective. Simon bribes the only too willing Ronna to cover him at the Supermarket so that he can go off for a wild night in Vegas with his friends. If Ronna was the drugs chapter of this film then Simon is the sex chapter to go with it. They planned on having a wild time and that’s certainly what happens, with a load of laughs along the way. But of course, the laughter soon ends as events unfold.
Adam & Zack - is the third and final chapter of the film. Again the story jumps back to the beginning and this time around follows Adam, Scott Wolf (Party of Five), and Zack, Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire), as they try and score some Ecstasy for a Rave warehouse party called the ‘Mary X-Mas Superfest‘. This wonderful cringe worthy chapter has some of the best moments in the film, as the three segments finally begins to come together. And how.
GO is a very well put together film, tightly edited and well written. The performances can seem a little wooden at first, but you will soon warm to the characters and things quickly get much better. Don’t be put off by Desmond Askews’ (Simon) opening performance - for me it came across as the beginnings of something very bad. Wait until his part of the film and he goes up a notch or too.
The dialogue is exceptional in parts - and it is here that there will be inevitable comparisons to Quentin Tarantino (and Pulp Fiction). Yes, the writing is that good. Its sharp and ‘hip’. Funny and cool. OK perhaps screenplay writer John August was inspired by Tarantino’s work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He is not ripping off Tarantino in any way. This film is not a poor relation to Pulp Fiction. It is a film in its own right and well deserves to stand up against any other.
I would have to recommend GO with very few exceptions. As I have said its well directed, edited and written, and you will be dragged into the story without clock watching, wondering how long it has left to run. It is full of unexpected moments and you will find yourself smiling throughout, even though the film gets pretty dark at times. And you will get to like the characters, no matter how dubious they may be.
If you have missed this film - pick it up. You could do a lot worse than spend an hour and a half of your time entertaining yourself with this release.
The Anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer would be acceptable if it was not for the highly noticeable grain throughout the film. It looks worse in certain scenes than others - but once you settle into the film you will probably forget it is there and it should not spoil your enjoyment too much.
I am not sure if it’s a fault with the transfer or perhaps intentional, though I doubt the latter. It reminded me of the transfer for Kevin Smith’s debut film Clerks - which suffers a similar problem, though the transfer for Clerks shows far more grain than this one. However Clerks was a very low budget film, filmed on 16mm, and so I would assume that you would expect to see grain evident on that transfer. GO, on the other hand, was filmed on 35mm using Panavision cameras and at nowhere near the budget that Clerks was filmed on. So this is a bit of a disappointment.
Do not let this problem put you off getting this version of the film - the same problem is evident on the Region 1 edition - and as I have said, you will in all honesty forget about it 10 minutes into the film.
Apart from the grain - the transfer appears to be clean, if a little soft at times. Acceptable - but only just.
The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound with a choice of English or German language tracks. A cool soundtrack puts the 5.1 to good use. When the music kicks in so does the lfe track BIG time, with the bass pounding away at your foundations. Apart from the music sequences, the rest of the film may feel a little subdued - but the dialogue always comes through just fine. There is little use of the rears and not much else going on to work your speakers. However, this works great for the film as some of the drug induced rave scenes are loud and in your face, and accentuate your experience of what you see on screen.
Packaging and Menus
The DVD is housed in a standard black Amaray case - with 4 page colour ‘booklet’ - featuring the cover image, the chapters in the inside gatefold and photos from the film on the back page.
The menus are animated and easy to navigate - although on the scene selection screen - it can be difficult to realise where the ‘hot spot’ is for your selection - this is because it’s a similar colour to the screen backgrounds. When you realise what’s what, you are away. Functional without being too flashy.
A quick note here about the subtitles - the English subtitle track does not entirely accurately reflect the spoken word. (A problem that seems to affected many releases). This really annoys me as I feel that the hard of hearing can miss out on the subtleties of the script if the subtitles do not cover the dialogue exact.
At first glance this could look like a feature packed disc - and it certainly did at the time it came out. A quick glance at the back cover seems to indicate that all the main extras we could want on a DVD for this type of movie are here: Audio Commentary, Making Of, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Filmographies and a Trailer. But if we take a closer look - just how feature packed is this release?
Scene Specific Audio Commentary - First up we have a single Scene Specific Audio Commentary track by the Director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrione. It‘s a fairly informative track that I found unintentionally amusing throughout the opening chapters. Doug introduces Stephen as his friend, but it is not long before Stephen starts breaking into his commentary, cutting him flat as he rambles on about what he thinks needs to be said. I was worried how long this friendship could last!
It is not long though before they settle down, and all in all its not a bad commentary track and you will learn plenty of interesting things about the making of the film.
International Theatrical Trailer - Next up a short Theatrical Trailer (1’ 12”) that accurately portrays the film for a change. Be warned though if you are going to view the trailer before watching the film, it does contain scenes from the very end of the film - so this could spoil it for some people.
Behind The Scenes Featurette - A short behind the scenes featurette follows, which unfortunately is typical of this ‘type’ of extra at the time this DVD was released. All it is, is an extended Trailer - a mere PR fluff piece that is a complete and utter waste of your time. It runs for just over six minutes, and apart from very brief interviews and snatches of behind the scenes footage, it is not worth looking at.
Deleted Scenes - The one feature I was most looking forward to was the deleted scenes, especially when I realised that there were 14 of them. I was very interested to see what was lost to keep the film so tight and fast moving. However, listing this feature as deleted scenes, could be seen as taking extreme liberties with the truth. The bulk of these 14 scenes are mainly alternate takes or outtakes of scenes. Out of all these scenes, less than half could be described as ‘deleted scenes’ - and out of them I only found one or two that were interesting. After sitting through these scenes I was left wondering how someone who created a film as good as this, could have been responsible for filming some of these dreadful moments. It is painfully obvious why some of these were never used, and you just have to wonder why anyone saw fit to let the general public see them either. Very disappointing - a view once only feature and, in my opinion, a bit of a waste of space.
3 Music Videos - Three videos are provided for your musical entertainment. As you would expect, all these songs feature in the film and all are pretty good, that is, if you like this style of music. To be honest its not quite my cup of tea, but they are toe tapping enough for at least one viewing. For me that one viewing was enough. But I am sure that any No Doubt fans will be well pleased and will return for more. The three videos are:
No Doubt - ‘New’ (4’ 30)
Philip Steir (featuring Steppenwolf) - ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ (3’ 20)
LEN - ‘Steal My Sunshine’ (3’ 52)
Filmorgaphies - The final extra is a set of very brief Biographies and Filmographies for six of the cast and one for the Director. Each entry is simply one screen of scant biographical information, followed by a single screen filmography. Most of the actors have only appeared in a very few films - so I guess you would not expect too much biographical detail. Still they could have given a bit more information here.
These round off what could have been a good set of extras - but were instead rather disappointingly average to say the least.
OK lets look at what we have: A grainy Transfer, a good 5.1 surround sound track and a bunch of so-so extras.
Well forget about that! At the end of the day you will have a fine film in your collection - and that should be the main reason for you buying the DVD in the first place - anything else is literally a bonus.
Also, forget about people comparing the film to Tarantino and calling it a poor mans Pulp Fiction. it’s a different film - take it for what it is - fast, well made and entertaining. And because of the episodic nature the story, it’s a film you will be able to come back to time and time again and still enjoy it as much as you did the first time around.