So Wrong They're Right
Directed by Russ Forster and Dan Sutherland
Rivaling the Trekkies films for presenting oddball, geeky people in all their resplendent glory and bathing in their utter, unabashed nerdiness, So Wrong They're Right focuses on "trackers," those who refuse to let go of the obsolete 8 Track tape format.
The Cartridge Family
Filmed in 1994, So Wrong They're Right predates the current documentary "craze" and happily enough the movie gets another chance at finding an audience with its new DVD release.
It's a silly coast-to-coast odyssey that meets up with the country's preeminent 8 Track aficionados. Billed as presenting a case of anti-establishment, "don't tell us what to consume" rebellion, the documentary is really a collection of folks who are full of bollocks and, in the immortal words of William Shatner, most of them need to get a life.
Sure, Marci got "banned for life" from her local Goodwill store after infiltrating the store's nest egg of 8 Tracks without permission. There's also Burnsee, who quit his job as a display dresser at his local Saks Fifth Avenue because management failed to appreciate his sloppy personal appearance.
Amongst that ilk, Johnny Rotten still trumps the trackers when it comes to bashing the establishment (and just about everything else). But, bless ‘em, these geeks do make entertaining fodder for 92 minutes.
It's an iffy premise to proclaim the beauty of listening to 8 Tracks lies in the fact that thieves never bother to break into your car to steal them, but that's one of the bonuses named by several of the format's followers. Other attractions are the beauty of obscurity, the "magic" of the tapes breaking, and the formidable clunking sound of plunging a tape into the player.
Then there's the inexplicable guy who hordes 8 Tracks even though he doesn't own an 8 Track player. He's anticipating some sort of long-haul road trip in which the only form of recorded medium will be the automobile's 8 Track console.
The Analog Revolution
One can only imagine what Barry, Jack Black's rock 'n' roll snob character in High Fidelity, would contribute to the 8 Track conversation.
In his absence, we do get some lamentations, via the supplemental features, on how eBay killed the 8 Track community by basically making the tapes too readily available and, sometimes, at gouging prices.
Also on tap are quick snippets on how to splice a broken tape back together and how to replace the tape's pinch roller.
One of the funniest segments comes at the very end of the movie. It's sort of an inside joke for those who know a thing or two about music history and it involves the joys of discovering Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music on 8 Track. That album is Reed's legendary release done solely to fulfill a contractual obligation. Virtually unlistenable, it is as it is titled: nothing but metal machinery clanking away.
The innocence of that purchase summarizes the film as a whole; there's a fascinating amount of innocence underlying the whole affair. In the end, it's that innocence that triumphs over the rebellious chest thumping of the DVD's packaging.
The extras are just as kooky as the feature itself. Roughly 20 minutes of extended footage are built out of primarily not-ready-for-public-access video segments. Included are the destruction of an Abbey Road 8 Track on the legendary crosswalk in front of Abbey Road Studios, an overly-long poetry reading in honor of the 8-track format, a haunting memorial segment for Abigail Lavine (the coolest subject of the film who died of breast cancer in 1997), and very brief comments from the likes of T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, and Tiny Tim.
Included in that 20-minute total are two slide-show segments narrated by the director; they're only a few minutes long between the both of them and worth a peek.
Surprisingly, the running commentary by director Russ Forster is well worth a listen. The commentary does precisely what a good one should do; it fills in the blanks and gives more background to the people being interviewed on screen.
His leaflet of production notes, covering material not in the commentary, is also worth a read.
Perhaps also considered a bonus, it's a region-free disc.
By the way, don't be deceived; any true rebel knows better than to believe everything they read. The DVD jacket lists a 100-minute running time for the feature. It actually clocks in at 92 minutes.
Picture and Sound
The scratchy, splotchy presentation suits the material well. It's a 16MM production that's been converted to DVD and there is a definite low-rent feel to the disc that fits in with the content.
The soundtrack is equally homespun and low-fi.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.