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Point of View (an Interactive movie)  Print E-mail
DVD Documentary
Written by Richard Elen   
Tuesday, 24 April 2001


title:
Point Of View (an Interactive movie)

studio:
Aftermath Media/DVD International
MPAA rating: N/A
starring: Stefanie Von Pfetten, Chris Bradford, Christopher Shyer, Paul Jarrett
release year: 2000
film rating: Four Stars
reviewed by: Richard Elen

Have you ever been watching a movie and wondered what would happen if you could change how the characters behaved? Have you ever wished you could? If so, "Point Of View" will be a must-see for you. In "Point Of View," your own attitudes and emotions determine the development of the storyline in this tense psychological thriller.

This is the second fully-interactive movie designed exclusively for DVD by writer/director David Wheeler and designer/producer Rob Landeros, aka Aftermath Media (if those names sound familiar, you may remember them from hit computer games like "Seventh Guest" and "11th Hour"). The first was 1998’s award-winning "Tender Loving Care," starring John Hurt; "Point Of View" is their latest effort, following a move to Vancouver and teaming up with Digital Circus Entertainment.

The structure of the movie is similar to that employed for the first time in "TLC," but significantly simplified. As "TLC "is the only other real reference for this type of entertainment, I will refer to it throughout this review.

Both "TLC" and "POV" consist of a series of chapters (12 in the case of "POV"), and the playing of each is followed by an on-screen questionnaire, the answers to which determine what scenes will make up the following chapter. "TLC" followed each chapter with an "exit poll," containing questions related to the action, then an opportunity to explore the locations in which the action occurs and read otherwise hidden material, followed by another questionnaire taking the form of a psychological test which developed a viewer profile, which was also used to direct the choice of the story’s direction.

"POV" has the same general structure, but here the "interactive interludes" between each chapter give you five options: "Explore" allows you to examine certain personal effects and other material (often slightly amusing) by choosing them from a menu (in "TLC," you had to hunt around the house for them), while "Encounters" allows you to choose face-to-face interactions with the characters, who will tell you some of their innermost thoughts about the developing situation (in "TLC," you came across them spontaneously – and occasionally – as you wandered into different rooms). "Review" permits the viewing of chapters you have already covered (but not ones you haven’t – you can’t skip ahead in the story), while "Resume" plays the next chapter and "Quit" takes you through a "game saving" process to give you a set of numbers and letters if you want to leave the movie and return to the same point (and the same storyline) in the future.

While "TLC" starred John Hurt and a small group of actors culled largely from soap operas, "POV," shot entirely on location in Vancouver, uses high-quality local talent. "TLC" was a psychological drama in which the viewer was invited to "assist" a psychiatrist (Hurt) in solving the mystery of what happened in a traumatized family. "POV" is more of a thriller, involving obsession, art, eroticism, fantasy and murder, and instead of the rural Oregon setting of "TLC," the action takes place in urban Vancouver. Local musicians Payton Rule and jefreejon, who appear briefly in the movie as themselves, provide appropriate music throughout.

Jane (a very appropriately attractive Stephanie Von Pfetten) is a beautiful artist who watches her neighbor, a musician named Frank (Chris Bradford) and takes photographs of him, creating composite paintings of the two of them together. Her life is also entwined with that of her friend Mary, who is carrying on a relationship through the personal ads in the local newspaper. From this basis, an increasingly complex storyline develops as we learn more about the characters and the things hidden in their pasts, along with their motivations and thought processes. The storyline is built from our own attitudes and our opinion of the behavior of the characters, not just chapter by chapter, but scene by scene.

In common, I am sure, with most people, I have only seen one version of the movie. The thing to do, once you’ve watched it, is to try it on your friends and see what movie you get with their choices instead of your own. With "TLC," the result was a surprise. In "POV," there are at least three different endings and an enormous number of alternate scenes.

It took me a little under three hours (on my own) to view the chapters, complete the questionnaires, and explore the additional inter-chapter material – way quicker than "TLC," which I viewed over a period of a couple of weeks. In "TLC," it was virtually impossible to work out how the questions were used in forming the storyline, and the inter-chapter process is quite time-consuming. In "POV," it is faster and you get a quicker start in forming an idea of how it all works, the process itself being much more streamlined.

I spoke to the guy who programmed "TLC" soon after it came out. From his description the programming structure was enormously complicated. Very likely the company researched reaction to their initial effort and found that many viewers found all the interactivity a bit too complex and time-consuming, so they decided to simplify it and make the background materials easier to access. "POV" is more restrained in some other areas, too: "TLC" included nudity (if you answered some questions in a particular way) but "POV" just has "mature themes" – although these themes are dealt with in a sensitive way that avoids much need for explicit presentation.

As in "TLC," the questions range from deep to humorous or inane, and some of them are frustrating because the answer you would really like to give is not available. But where "TLC" included a number of general questions that took the form of basic psychological profile-building, all the "POV" questions seem to have some evident relevance to the action, even when they appear to focus on more general topics.

Where "TLC" was shot on 35mm, and thus had a distinctly "filmic" look, "POV" was shot on digital Betacam (sometimes with video artifacts visible on-screen, unfortunately), giving the film-makers much more flexibility in scenes requiring low lighting, and the ability to shoot the mass of footage required for the alternate scenes without breaking the bank. As a result, it tends to look a bit more soap opera-like in initial visuals. Do not allow appearances to fool you: the production as a whole is much more art-house than daytime TV. The actors are not as well known as those in "TLC," but the casting is excellent and they play their parts extremely well, particular in the handling of the dynamic between Jane and Frank, with an effective buildup of sexual tension during the course of the movie. The fact that each chapter is built from a number of scenes – some of them only a few seconds long – that are assembled essentially on the fly means that there is a lot of cross-fading in and out, and you may see slight pauses on occasion as your machine finds the next scene, but this does not disturb viewing.

Very likely this movie will be more popular than Aftermath’s previous effort. "TLC" won many awards for its innovations in DVD programming, authoring and design, and as a result "POV" will no doubt pick up sales from people like myself who were enthralled by the ingenuity of its predecessor. The edgy urban plot deals with real issues of alienation, beauty, privacy, sexuality and power – and our own emotional and moral attitudes to them; the music is contemporary and appropriate; and you are drawn into the characters and your feelings about them as these very feelings and attitudes shape the movie that unfolds before your eyes. Like its predecessor, "POV" is an outstanding, innovative landmark in the development of the DVD medium.

If you enjoyed "TLC," you may enjoy "Point Of View" even more. I would encourage you to experience both, although "TLC" requires rather more effort on the part of the viewer than the present offering. The disc also contains a trailer and a fascinating "making of" documentary – which you should avoid seeing for as long as possible, as it contains several spoilers. "POV" may not be available everywhere, but it is available from Amazon.com, as is its predecessor, and you can obtain both from aftermathmedia.com. You’ll be glad you did.


more details
sound format:
Dolby Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1.33:1 (full-screen)
special features: Full Interactivity; Alternate Scenes; Multiple Endings; Viewer Participation; Trailer; "Making Of" Documentary (contains spoilers) www.povthemovie.com
comments: email us here...
order today:




This is the second fully-interactive movie designed exclusively for DVD by writer/director David Wheeler and designer/producer Rob Landeros, aka Aftermath Media (if those names sound familiar, you may remember them from hit computer games like "Seventh Guest" and "11th Hour"). The first was 1998’s award-winning "Tender Loving Care," starring John Hurt; "Point Of View" is their latest effort, following a move to Vancouver and teaming up with Digital Circus Entertainment.

The structure of the movie is similar to that employed for the first time in "TLC," but significantly simplified. As "TLC "is the only other real reference for this type of entertainment, I will refer to it throughout this review.

Both "TLC" and "POV" consist of a series of chapters (12 in the case of "POV"), and the playing of each is followed by an on-screen questionnaire, the answers to which determine what scenes will make up the following chapter. "TLC" followed each chapter with an "exit poll," containing questions related to the action, then an opportunity to explore the locations in which the action occurs and read otherwise hidden material, followed by another questionnaire taking the form of a psychological test which developed a viewer profile, which was also used to direct the choice of the story’s direction.

"POV" has the same general structure, but here the "interactive interludes" between each chapter give you five options: "Explore" allows you to examine certain personal effects and other material (often slightly amusing) by choosing them from a menu (in "TLC," you had to hunt around the house for them), while "Encounters" allows you to choose face-to-face interactions with the characters, who will tell you some of their innermost thoughts about the developing situation (in "TLC," you came across them spontaneously – and occasionally – as you wandered into different rooms). "Review" permits the viewing of chapters you have already covered (but not ones you haven’t – you can’t skip ahead in the story), while "Resume" plays the next chapter and "Quit" takes you through a "game saving" process to give you a set of numbers and letters if you want to leave the movie and return to the same point (and the same storyline) in the future.

While "TLC" starred John Hurt and a small group of actors culled largely from soap operas, "POV," shot entirely on location in Vancouver, uses high-quality local talent. "TLC" was a psychological drama in which the viewer was invited to "assist" a psychiatrist (Hurt) in solving the mystery of what happened in a traumatized family. "POV" is more of a thriller, involving obsession, art, eroticism, fantasy and murder, and instead of the rural Oregon setting of "TLC," the action takes place in urban Vancouver. Local musicians Payton Rule and jefreejon, who appear briefly in the movie as themselves, provide appropriate music throughout.

Jane (a very appropriately attractive Stephanie Von Pfetten) is a beautiful artist who watches her neighbor, a musician named Frank (Chris Bradford) and takes photographs of him, creating composite paintings of the two of them together. Her life is also entwined with that of her friend Mary, who is carrying on a relationship through the personal ads in the local newspaper. From this basis, an increasingly complex storyline develops as we learn more about the characters and the things hidden in their pasts, along with their motivations and thought processes. The storyline is built from our own attitudes and our opinion of the behavior of the characters, not just chapter by chapter, but scene by scene.

In common, I am sure, with most people, I have only seen one version of the movie. The thing to do, once you’ve watched it, is to try it on your friends and see what movie you get with their choices instead of your own. With "TLC," the result was a surprise. In "POV," there are at least three different endings and an enormous number of alternate scenes.

It took me a little under three hours (on my own) to view the chapters, complete the questionnaires, and explore the additional inter-chapter material – way quicker than "TLC," which I viewed over a period of a couple of weeks. In "TLC," it was virtually impossible to work out how the questions were used in forming the storyline, and the inter-chapter process is quite time-consuming. In "POV," it is faster and you get a quicker start in forming an idea of how it all works, the process itself being much more streamlined.

I spoke to the guy who programmed "TLC" soon after it came out. From his description the programming structure was enormously complicated. Very likely the company researched reaction to their initial effort and found that many viewers found all the interactivity a bit too complex and time-consuming, so they decided to simplify it and make the background materials easier to access. "POV" is more restrained in some other areas, too: "TLC" included nudity (if you answered some questions in a particular way) but "POV" just has "mature themes" – although these themes are dealt with in a sensitive way that avoids much need for explicit presentation.

As in "TLC," the questions range from deep to humorous or inane, and some of them are frustrating because the answer you would really like to give is not available. But where "TLC" included a number of general questions that took the form of basic psychological profile-building, all the "POV" questions seem to have some evident relevance to the action, even when they appear to focus on more general topics.

Where "TLC" was shot on 35mm, and thus had a distinctly "filmic" look, "POV" was shot on digital Betacam (sometimes with video artifacts visible on-screen, unfortunately), giving the film-makers much more flexibility in scenes requiring low lighting, and the ability to shoot the mass of footage required for the alternate scenes without breaking the bank. As a result, it tends to look a bit more soap opera-like in initial visuals. Do not allow appearances to fool you: the production as a whole is much more art-house than daytime TV. The actors are not as well known as those in "TLC," but the casting is excellent and they play their parts extremely well, particular in the handling of the dynamic between Jane and Frank, with an effective buildup of sexual tension during the course of the movie. The fact that each chapter is built from a number of scenes – some of them only a few seconds long – that are assembled essentially on the fly means that there is a lot of cross-fading in and out, and you may see slight pauses on occasion as your machine finds the next scene, but this does not disturb viewing.

Very likely this movie will be more popular than Aftermath’s previous effort. "TLC" won many awards for its innovations in DVD programming, authoring and design, and as a result "POV" will no doubt pick up sales from people like myself who were enthralled by the ingenuity of its predecessor. The edgy urban plot deals with real issues of alienation, beauty, privacy, sexuality and power – and our own emotional and moral attitudes to them; the music is contemporary and appropriate; and you are drawn into the characters and your feelings about them as these very feelings and attitudes shape the movie that unfolds before your eyes. Like its predecessor, "POV" is an outstanding, innovative landmark in the development of the DVD medium.

If you enjoyed "TLC," you may enjoy "Point Of View" even more. I would encourage you to experience both, although "TLC" requires rather more effort on the part of the viewer than the present offering. The disc also contains a trailer and a fascinating "making of" documentary – which you should avoid seeing for as long as possible, as it contains several spoilers. "POV" may not be available everywhere, but it is available from Amazon.com, as is its predecessor, and you can obtain both from aftermathmedia.com. You’ll be glad you did.


more details
sound format:
Dolby Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1.33:1 (full-screen)
special features: Full Interactivity; Alternate Scenes; Multiple Endings; Viewer Participation; Trailer; "Making Of" Documentary (contains spoilers) www.povthemovie.com
comments: email us here...
order today:









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