Liability Crisis tells the tale of Paul, a man obsessed with Hitler and the Holocaust. This obsession threatens relationships with the women in his life. Sounds like an interesting premise. But art is all in the execution.
The leads in the film are played by Jim Helsinger and Mirjana Jokovic. Helsinger has the potential to look good on screen, but the bad lighting gives off an unnatural brown pallor to his skin. His performance fluctuates between veracious and just plain awkward. Jokovic, an ac…or from Yugoslavia, still looks beautiful despite the poor cinematography. Her moments are much better. The rest of the acting, unfortunately, is just a step up from soft core porn.
This is Richard Brody’s first film. He has had little film making experience prior to Liability Crisis. And it shows. There are awkward editing choices and his camera is a little boring to watch. Brody is inspired by the French New Wave, but that inspiration doesn’t come out on the screen. The premise of the story, albeit farfetched, keeps the film moving for 75 minutes. The original cut was almost 2 and a half hours!
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround is mainly used for room tone. Dialogue is somewhat muffled, like a bad video production. The mix is poorly balanced, as the classical music is way too loud compared with everything else (and this is all in the front speakers). There is also noticeable hissing in the background, again the result of a bad sound mix.
1.33:1 Fullscreen and not anamorphic. The transfer doesn’t look good either. There are noticeable instances of speckling and print damage. There is a kind of low grade look to the whole film. Again, a kind of home video quality. The flesh tones are a bit off. As mentioned earlier, there is an ugly brownish quality to some of the faces, depending on the light. There is a general muddiness to the whole presentation. No edge enhancements or halos. Menus are basic, not scored.
Not bad. First off there are biographies of the director and the two leads. Somewhat informative.
There is a 20 minute interview with the writer/director, Richard Brody. I found this interview strangely compelling. He is a very odd man. And he is sitting on a park bench in New York, making comments about the film and about the squirrels that pass by. Brody has some informative comments to make about Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave movement. But Brody is no Godard. He is quite candid about the shortcomings of his own film, as well as the difference between the movie you have in your head and the movie you actually make.
There is an hour of footage that was cut out of the original release. The footage is shown in its entirety here. The print is quite damaged and exists as a curiosity. But the footage is more of the same; seeing it restored into the film proper would make for a very intolerable viewing experience.
There is also a filmmaker’s statement which is more engaging than the film itself. So maybe skip the movie and read the text. It’s a very well written dissertation on the themes in Liability Crisis and their relationship to the larger cinematic milieu.
This is a film that, intellectually, poses some very interesting questions. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s point would make for a better essay than a film. Liability Crisis also suffers from poor lighting and sound, which gives the movie a “student project” quality about it. A nice amount of extras save this DVD release from being a total “liability” to the industry.
Special Features List
- minute interview with the writer/director Richard Brody
- Cut Footage
- Filmmaker’s statement