Rights issues, or disinterest?

When an American movie gets released in Europe but fails to show up in Region 1 land, it’s easy for fans to get a little miffed and wonder the heck is going on.

It’s not unusual to see a European financed film eventually make its way here (there are exceptions, like Martin Weisz’s Grimm Love / Rohtenburg, for example), but it is odd that All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has yet to appear on DVD here; the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2006, and yet it was never picked up by North American distributors for a theatrical and DVD run.

Why? Particularly since the director, Jonathan Levine, went on to make The Wackness (2008), which recently debuted on DVD here?

Mandy Lane is not a straight thriller, and that may be the big problem with distributors wanting an easy sell in a market already filled with mid- and low-level slashers and horror fodder that’s virtually indistinguishable unless there’s some seriously depraved or bizarro element.

(The French seem to have refined shock value to a fine art, although whether The Inside and Martyr(s) will be regarded as genre classics or just shock art in 10 years will be interesting.)

You’d think Mandy Lane's unique style and elements would attract a distributor wanting a title guaranteed to stand out among blah rental fodder, but that hasn't happened yet.

Levine’s film is available in Europe, so I’ve uploaded a review of this odd thriller by filmmakers clearly determined to create a work that doesn’t wallow in the excesses of the slasher genre. They’re good excesses, mind you, but when someone succeeds in creating a new offshoot that works, a film like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane deserves to be celebrated.

To the other end is Olly Blackburn’s Donkey Punch (2008), also released in Region 2 land by Optimum. Both films have sumptuous photography, an intriguing cast, and a style that’s distinct, but where Mandy Lane offers characters we eventually lament as they die quite horribly, Donkey Punch stays with hot and bothered stick figures who make extraordinarily dumb moves.

There's this thing I call Peter’s Law, named after a colleague whose patience for stupid characters is exceptionally low: if you’re a moron, you deserve to die, and if you’re a filmmaker who anchors a film around morons, that film isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Donkey Punch's failure is a classic case of Peter's Law in action, but the film will probably remain of note for its look, as well as the cast who appear quite naked and full frontal, including Jaime Winstone. While the film will attract fans wanting a glimpse of gratuitous boobery, Winstone’s real talent is better showcased in Dead Set (2008), where she plays a kick-ass production gopher who keeps a segment of humanity alive while zombies tear up the United Kingdom with their bloodied fingers and vicious canines.



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