Columbia Tri-Star Home Ent., $24.95
THANKS TO THE unsurprising crossover success of Memento, director Christopher Nolan's 1998 debut feature Following is enjoying a well-deserved second helping of buzz. Until now, only a few were able to savor this disjointed, ingenious thriller. (Admittedly, it's tough to drum up interest in a zero-budget, black-and-white, London-based jigsaw puzzle that's just over an hour long.)
Following's DVD presentation is suitably refined. It contains precisely the right features to embellish and expand your comprehension of a challenging film. The delicate interplay between an unemployed stalker, a smarmy burglar, and a pornographer's moll is told out of sequence—then further disguised by jagged British cadence.
Go on, be a weakling: Flip on Nolan's revealing commentary; reset the movie to its chronological order; add subtitles to make sure nothing goes by unnoticed. Now that the bibs are in place, you might occasionally access the shooting script, which is packed with location and dialogue deletions necessitated by Nolan's woeful lack of funds. He shot most of the film handheld and guerrilla-style, sometimes in his parents' house, sometimes without a permit, and used complicated angles in public scenes to obscure staring onlookers.
Upon first glance, Memento fans especially may question why Following's story—heavy on manipulative double crosses—has to unfold in such a haphazard manner. A second chronological viewing reveals Nolan's unwavering attention to critical details that initially appear to be minutiae. This DVD is a fine tribute to a young filmmaker who has smacked the convention out of storytelling. Twice.
IN THE FEW shopping days left before Xmas, what other DVDs can you buy? Michael J. Fox lends his commentary to 1989's Casualties of War, which also includes deleted scenes. There aren't any extras on Fritz Lang's 1953 revenge-noir The Big Heat, but Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford, and Gloria Grahame deliver excellent performances. The beautiful Vietnamese picture The Vertical Ray of the Sun hardly requires additional features; it's simply gorgeous to watch.