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DVD Review: TSOTSI

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PHOTOGRAPHY

TSOTSI

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 94 minutes, feature audio commentary, two alternate endings and three deleted scenes with optional commentary, making of featurette, music video, and The Storekeeper (director's short film)

STUDIO: MIRAMAX

RELEASE DATE: 7-18-2006

I sat in disbelief as I watched TSOTSI. How could a film that isn't the best (prompting me to fast forward through scenes on the DVD) win the Best Picture Oscar? It's not a good film. It has some good stuff in it, but director Gavin Hood's take on it is a long winded story that could have used more meat. I just didn't feel enough sympathy for Tsotsi. he is a thug from a shack town in South Africa. He has a crew that consists of three others. Teacher is the only one who questions what Tsotsi does. Tsotsi begins to unravel and steals a car one night. It has a baby in the back seat. He decides to take the baby with him because it reminds him of his bad childhood when he ran away. He begins to feel more human and a few possibilities for his future open up for him as his life of crime continues to unravel.

I had several problems with TSOTSI. It just felt underdeveloped and boring at times. Even with fast forwarding, I could still get the whole story. It isn't a good thing at all. I just wish there was more build-up to him stealing the car and a little more on the other characters including more of the police's investigation. I just can't believe it won the 2005 Foreign Film Oscar, but then again Oscar voters sometime don't chose the best movie for Best Picture because it is more of a popularity contest at times. Sometimes Oscar gets it right, but I have to disagree over TSOTSI. Then again I haven't liked many of the Foreign Film Oscar winners despite my love for foreign cinema.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO: Tsotsi-Taal 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, Spanish

SPECIAL FEATURES: The extras include an audio commentary for the film with writer/director Gavin Hood. The 13 minute featurette, THE MAKING OF TSOTSI, covers the updating of the novel when adapting it, the casting, the music, and filming three weeks in a shanty town/ shack town.

The two alternate endings and three deleted scenes are very interesting. Gavin explains why they weren't used. The two alternate endings felt contrived to him while the confession scene took the test audience out of the film. I felt either alternate ending and the first deleted scene left in could have made TSOTSI a better film, but Gavin felt he needed to make the film bring up questions and not go too far with what the audience is willing to forgive Tsotsi for.

Rounding out the extras is a music video, something about the soundtrack, and the director's short film THE STOREKEEPER (with optional commentary) that has no dialogue at all. Maybe one day Gavin Hood will get the use of silence and little dialogue right.

FINAL ANALYSIS: TSOTSI is overrated and needs more focus. If you want to watch it, rent the DVD. If you liked it, buy the DVD. I just think there are much better foreign films to watch on DVD than TSOTSI.

this review is (c)7-17-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com