Iï¿½m never up on the film festival scene, so itï¿½s no surprise to me that Iï¿½ve only just discovered Tom Zuberï¿½s Little Athens, even though it was an official selection of the Toronto Film Festival back in 2005.
My three favourite things about this movie are its strong cast, solid story and the unique cinematography. Actually, make it four things, because the soundtrack is also pretty excellent.
First, the cast. Little Athens is definitely an ensemble film, and every actor in this one is solid. Thatï¿½s pretty rare for an ensemble of such young actors, which makes this film special. Itï¿½s also exciting since these actors all of the potential for long careers ahead of them.
As for the story, itï¿½s basically about a group of late teens and early-twenties-aged people in dead-end small town, living in that transition period between high school and whatever they end up doing for the rest of their days. You might call it the post-high-school void. The point is, theyï¿½re going nowhere, and there isnï¿½t much to do in their town. The film covers one eventful day in the lives of these ï¿½kidsï¿½, with four separate storylines that eventually come together toward the end. It feels very real, even while some crazy stuff goes down.
The whole story is presented in an interesting way. There are plenty of unique shots that donï¿½t remind me of anything I recall seeing before, and the filmmakersï¿½ use of colour themes for each of the separate storylines has a nice, subtle effect. Then at the end when the stories come together, the colours gradually fade away, which works well with the filmï¿½s final statement.
Listen to the audio commentary, and youï¿½ll hear three guys really excited about having a Radiohead song in their movie. There are a lot of great songs throughout the film, but I wonï¿½t pretend to be hip enough to name the songs or the artists behind them.
So Little Athens is a solid independent film with a great cast and a strong story presented in unique ways accompanied by cool music. Howï¿½s the DVD set?
Little Athens is presented on one disc in 1.85:1 widescreen format. The transfer mostly looks very good ï¿½ nice and sharp, with vibrant, realistic colours. Near the filmï¿½s end, though, things take a turn for the worse, with pretty grainy picture. I realize that this is most likely just the filmmakersï¿½ artistic choice for presenting the filmï¿½s finale, but I donï¿½t have to think it looks good.
The main menu is animated, and scored.
Audio is English only, in Dolby Digital 5.1. The mix sounds good, with clear dialogue, and a decent use of the sound stage. This isnï¿½t an effects-laden film, so donï¿½t expect a workout for your home theatre.
English audio is also offered in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, and Spanish subtitles are available.
We get only a minimalist collection of bonus material here. Thereï¿½s an audio commentary, a promo featurette and a trailer gallery.
The audio commentary is by director Tom Zuber, producer Josh Lawler and executive producer Matt Lendach. Itï¿½s a pretty good track, with plenty of insight on stuff like the choices they made making the film, but be prepared for quiet moments when the guys fall into just watching their movie.
Little Athens: a Look Inside is a short promo featurette. It runs about four minutes, and includes interview clips from cast and crew. Not much depth here.
Finally, thereï¿½s a trailer gallery that includes the one for Little Athens.
Little Athens is definitely worth a look, and this DVD presentation is a bit better than average, though a little light on the extras.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary
- Promo featurette
- Trailer gallery