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DVD Review: Jack Says

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Jack Says, released in 2008, is an indie film with an interesting history. Winner of the “best actor” and “jury” awards at the Newport Film Festival, it became the springboard for a graphic novel prequel, Jack Said. The graphic novel was also made into a movie in 2009.

Jack Says opens with a black and white sequence surprisingly reminiscent of Sin City and Guy Ritchie films. When it switches to color, it loses some of its impact. Throughout this tale of a man who has lost his memory, black and white flashbacks interweave with current happenings, each time reminding us how much better it would have been if the entire film were black and white.

The color and black/white issue notwithstanding, Jack Says is neo film noir that sucks the audience in with its graphic violence and entertains with references to the works of David Lynch and another cult amnesia flick, Memento. Fans of Memento will find many similarities, although Jack Says is a linear narration, and not as polished.

As Jack (Simon Phillips, well cast) searches for clues to his own identity, viewers try to unravel this enigmatic character’s past attempting to decipher exactly what is going on. Two “surprises” delivered at the end are not impossible to pick up on earlier. But whether or not viewers are able to  deduce these points, they will be totally absorbed by the dark atmosphere, twists, and dialogue.

In addition to flashes of Ritchie, Lynch, Robert Rodriguez, and Christopher Nolan, there is a Quentin Tarantino influence that culminates in a Kill Bill 2 touch at the end. Jack Says pays homage to these five directors, who have set high standards in their respective genres. The film may not have the same production values, particularly in the areas of cinematography and sound recording, but its aspirations are high and it succeeds in entertaining fans of these other dark directors.

Jack Says is an independent film with a relatively low budget that grabs the audience from its opening and doesn’t let go until it’s done. The DVD includes a theatrical trailer that would induce any film noir or graphic novel fan to take notice.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Jack Says? Yes.

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