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LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FABULOUS STAINS - DVD Review (1 Viewer)

norrisMc

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The cult classic "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS" received only a limited initial theatrical release and has been seen only on television and occasionally at film festivals since it was made in 1981. The movie has never been released on home video or DVD. Yet this little-seen film about a trio of misfit teenage girls (including a young Diane Lane and Laura Dern) who start a punk band went on to inspire a generation of female rockers like Bikini Kill, L7, and Courtney Love. Jon Bon Jovi, St Ettienne and The Ramones are also huge fans of the film.

Rhino Entertainment are reviving this lost cult classic with the DVD release of LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS on September 16th.

Directed by Lou Adler (Up In Smoke, Rocky Horror Picture Show), the film stars Oscar nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful, The Perfect Storm) and Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Wild At Heart) as members of The Stains, along with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Fee Waybill of the Tubes, Black Randy from Black Randy and The Metrosquad, plus Ray Winstone (Beowulf, Sexy Beast) and Christine Lahti (Running On Empty).

Surly and sexy in one of her earliest starring roles, Diane Lane is the archetype riot grrl. Recently orphaned and struggling in a poverty stricken existance she forms a punk rock group with her sister and cousin. Sporting a memorable skunk hairdo, sheer see-through top, high-stiletto heels and fishnets, she sings songs like "I'm A Waste of Time," verbally assaults the audience and leads her legion of adoring female fans in the chant, "We don't put out!". Before long "The Stains" are becoming media darlings because of their image rather than any actual talent. However, the music industry being what it is, has some rather shocking surprises for the fledgling band.

This is a really wonderful film. The music, the camera work, the performances, the rags-to-riches/riches-to-rags story. It is all very entertaining and engrossing. It also says so so much about the music industry and fame... including the way that almost everyone uses and manipulates everything for their advantage only to be manipulated themselves and then destroyed by the very thing that made them.

Diane Lane totally owns the film and really imbues her character of Corrinne "3rd Degree" Burns with both a biting wit, a certain sympathy, and yet a tough bitchy quality. It is a very VERY memorable performance. Ray Winstone (with a very thick cockney accent) is superb also. These two also really look the part on stage. Diane Lane was to play a rocker in "Streets Of Fire" a few years after this too. Laura Dern is superb in support and Fee Waybill steals every scene he is in.

Filled with great rock and roll, it's no surprise that much of the film's underground following consists of musicians. Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail has said: "It is the most realistic and profound film I have ever seen." While not everyone will appreciate this time capsule of a movie, everyone should at least see it once. It is an important movie that somehow predicted much of how the music industry was to become. It was slightly passe when it came out (due to re-editing and re-shooting the film was delayed and plagued with behind-the-scenes problems) but it is now quite refreshing and doesn't seem dated. A time-capsule of a film that is definitely worth a look.

Film: 4/5

The FABULOUS STAINS DVD features the film restored from original vault elements and the picture quality on this 1.85:1 anamorphic enhanced DVD is pretty good. Considering the age of the film and the fact that it has been lost in some vault somewhere for almost 30 years it actually looks excellent. Nobody is gonna mistake this for a "Transformers" blu-ray but it is BY FAR the BEST this film has ever looked. Anyone used to $40 bootlegs on Ebay will be blown away! The picture is sharp, colorful, and clearly defined. There is some nice film grain but it isn't overly grainy. The low-ish budget and film stock is still apparent but some scenes really do look wonderful (even for SD). There are the odd instances of film debris (a few white speckles here and there) and there were one or two instances of pixellization (in a few scene transitions) but you have to really be on the look out for them. All in all this is a very nice DVD presentation from Rhino.

Picture: 3.5/5

The sound on this DVD is the real star of the show. The film has been completely remastered in 5.1 and wow, that music does sound good. There is a punch to the bass and a lively quality that blows away all those TV screenings and bootleg DVD's. The concert footage especially is very dynamic and nice. The dialogue is clear and centre focussed and well integrated into the mix. Overall, this is a very very impressive remaster.

Sound: 4/5

The extras on the DVD are all quite good but there are also some notable things missing. First there is the menu screens with the music from the film over some footage playing the background. Menu options are "Play Movie", "Scene Selections", "Set-Up" and "Special Features".

Under the extras you will find an informative brand new audio commentary with Lou Adler. Adler is quite quiet and unassuming. He also admits to watching and enjoying the movie. Sadly, for us... that means he goes quiet too often and we have patches of silence where he doesn't say much. He is quite informative when he does talk but the commentary is a bit dry. I guess sproradically informative is the best way to sum this one up.

The second commentary makes up for the first. Stars Diane Lane and Laura Dern sit-down together for this track and it is very entertaining and even downright hilarious in parts. While probably not as informative as Lou Adler's track the girls have an absolute ball revisiting this film. They joke and laugh, giggle and tell stories and anecdotes about the production and the films troubled shoot. Both Lane and Dern also show that they are very into their music too. Lane for instance mentions several bands and musical references throughout from The Ramones and The Go-Go's to Flock Of Seagulls and The Thompson Twins. There is also some funny moments where Diane Lane does some spot-on impressions of Ray Winstone! An entertaining and lively listen.

There is a cool photo-gallery with about 50 photos from the production. These are either promotional shots or behind-the-scenes shots taken during the shoot. Most of these I have never seen anywhere else. Even if you are an ardent fan of this film there will be many here that you too haven't seen before.

There is also an attractively produced and informative booklet inside the DVD case too.

While the commentaries are good (the Lane and Dern being great!) and the photo gallery is superb, there are still some things that didn't make the package sadly. The wonderful "Making Of" documentary (available here: index and here: YouTube - Making of 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains' Part 1 ) is sadly not included (apparently a rights issue). It is available on this DVD however: Amazon.com: The Rainbow Man/John 3:16: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Ray Winstone, Paul Cook, Paul Simonon, Marin Kanter, Lou Adler, Nancy Dowd, Fee Waybill, Caroline Coon, Jake Fogelnest, Debbie Rochon, Rollen Stewart, Sarah Jacobson, Sam Green (II): Movi ).

Also, the films theatrical trailer is not included although you can view the Rhino version of the trailer here: Amazon.com: Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains: Diane Lane, Ray Winstone, Laura Dern, Peter Donat, Barry Ford, Christine Lahti, John Lehne, Cynthia Sikes, Brent Spiner, Fee Waybill, Janet Wright, Marin Kanter, Debbie Rochon, Paul Simonon, Vinc and here: YouTube - Ladies & Gentelmen, The Fabulous Stains Trailer ).

If these two things were on this Rhino disc that would have made it pretty much perfect but sadly they are not. What we have is very good though so hey, we'll just have to live with it. That being said, to have any extras on this film is something to be applauded. Well done Rhino.

Extras features: 3/5

Overall, to own this lost cult classic on DVD is a miracle and to have it atlast in such good quality is even more impressive. The picture is fine, the sound is amazing, and the extras (while not completely all encompassing) are also excellent. The Diane Lane and Laura Dern commentary is especially entertaining and funny. A recommended purchase!

Total: 4/5
 

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