DVDs: Nov 05, AU Edition

James Fletcher on all the latest options for the small-screen cinema
JL.jpgDeath of a Beatle – Collector’s Edition DVD
4 stars

On December 8 this year it will have been 25 years since former Beatle John Lennon was maliciously shot and killed outside New York’s Dakota apartment block. While Lennon lay bleeding to death on the pavement at the feet of his wife Yoko Ono, his assassin Mark David Chapman simply stood watching, oddly fascinated by what he had done and with no comprehension of the global shockwave his actions had created.
The special edition DVD, Death of a Beatle, chronicles Lennon’s rise to fame from his early days in Liverpool to his time in New York City – and at the same time contrasts this ascent with Chapman’s eventual surrender to the delusional schizophrenia which drove his hatred and jealousy of celebrities.
Drawing heavily on the work of journalist Jack Jones, best known as the author of the Lennon/Chapman biography Take Me Down, the film utilizes audio from an interview between Jones and Chapman recorded in 2000. Much of Chapman’s dialogue, delivered in a reflective monosyllabic monologue is captivating, revealing the simplistic and tragic individual behind a façade of insanity.
However, any sympathy for Chapman is quickly diffused as the producers begin a chain of interviews, ranging from the police officers who attended the crime scene to Lennon’s friends and colleagues – including early Beatles member Pete Best, Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith, and assorted media personalities who effectively reinforce the shock and void that was felt in the wake of Chapman’s crime.
Released as a two-disc set complete with limited edition packaging, the DVD features additional interview footage with police detectives.
Also included is an extensive conversation with Andy Peebles who recalls his time spent with Lennon in his final days and Jack Jones who, having extensively interviewed Chapman over the space of 20 years, offers his own unique insight into the motivations and mentality of Chapman on the night of the shooting. An image gallery comprised of Chapman’s bizarre hotel possessions, biographies and a trailer gallery complete a DVD release that will appeal to both Beatles fans and true crime connoisseurs alike.

i7dvdart1.jpgGirl in the Mirror: A Portrait of Carol Jerrems
5 stars

Carol Jerrems may not be a common household name, but her extensive portfolio of work on Australian counter-culture throughout the 1970s remains one of this countries most valuable artistic assets. Now, after the recent success of screenings at the Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Auckland film festivals, Girl in the Mirror: A Portrait of Carol Jerrems has found its way to DVD in record time.
Directed by Kathy Drayton and produced by Helen Bowden of Soft Fruit and Traveling Light fame, ‘Girl’ chronicles the works of Carol Jerrems, who spent much of her time immersed among the 1970’s avant-garde artist movement with the likes of filmmakers Paul Cox, Esben Storm and author Kate Grenville.
Although a celebration of Jerrems raw and effecting photographs, the film is also a fascinating look at how damaged and self-destructive her personality was, something that is reinforced by the numerous compelling interviews from past lovers, colleagues and subjects that grace the film.
This dark presence is further captured as director Kathy Drayton skillfully intercuts numerous striking prints, many created for the film from archives at the National Gallery of Australia, with entries from Jerrems personal journals, written after she was hospitalized by a rare form of blood cancer that eventually claimed her life at the age of 30.
The DVD offers a quality extras package featuring a rare interview with Jerrems done in 1978, with previously unseen interview footage from Paul Cox, Daddy Cool member Ross Hannaford and the two Melbourne youths who feature in Jerrems’ iconic photograph Vale Street. Also included is the short film Hanging About written and directed by Jerrems which deals with rape, a subject which is hinted at more than once in the film concerning Jerrems’ past.
Additionally a collection of 66 photographs not seen in the film offer a retrospective of Jerrems’ professional career while video clips from the music artist J. Walker, who composed the frenetic soundtrack, the films trailer, bios and a weblink gallery complete a remarkable package for a fascinating film which has deservedly caught strong attention for the upcoming awards season.