Hellaware takes the hipster art world and makes a satire on the generation that has cultivated it over the years. It's a funny, short ride that seems to have predicted the next decade when it was released in 2014. Vinegar Syndrome has released the movie with a 1080p HD image, a 2.0 audio track, and a few bonus features that offer no insight except for a decent enough commentary track. Worth A Look.
HELLAWARE gently satirizes the world of high-brow art through the eyes of a wannabe photographer who becomes consumed by the bright lights of mainstream success. Jaded by the “incestuous, New York, socialite shit” that sells at prominent art galleries, Nate (Keith Poulson) embarks on a quest for a more authentic brand of contemporary art. When a coked-up YouTube search leads to a music video from Delawarean Goth rappers Young Torture Killers, an Insane Clown Posse knock-off, Nate knows he’s found his subjects. He soon drags his friend-with-benefits Bernadette (Sophia Takal) to rural Delaware to shoot the group playing in their parents’ basement. To “immerse himself” in the group’s culture and add an extra layer of realism to his work, Nate befriends the rappers and makes return trips to get to know them. But as his relationship with group develops, he becomes increasingly aware that, while you can take the boy out of the art world, you can’t take the art world out of the boy.
Directed by: Michael M. Bilandic
Starring: Keith Poulson, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Brent Butler
2014 / 73 min / 1.78:1 / English Stereo
• Region Free Blu-ray
• Deleted and extended scenes
• Behind the scenes of Hellaware
• Commentary with Michael M. Bilandic, Keith Poulson and Sean Price Williams
• Music video for "I'll Cut Yo Dick Off"
• 24 page booklet with a forward by Abel Ferrara, essays by Nick Pinkerton, Michael Chaiken, Sean Price Williams and Michael M. Bilandic
• English SDH subtitles
Purchase Original Edition From Vinegar Syndrome.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
In many ways, Hellaware was ahead of its time when it debuted in 2014 with its darkly funny satirical take on hipsters and the ever-pretentious art scene in New York City. Director and writer Michael C. Bilandic takes a somewhat guerilla approach in this indie romp that follows the upcoming, young art world and what the hipster generation might be into at any given moment in regards to the age-old question, "Could anything be considered art?" The result is an hour-long satire on the NY art scene that can now serve as a true story of how things have played out over the past decade.
This take on the art world in 2014 captures the culture in skinny jeans and beanies that believes anything could be art, whether it be molded food in a garbage bin or that famous plastic sack twirling around the wind in the award-winning film American Beauty. It's true though, art can be found anywhere, but in this certain young, hipster culture, the more low-key and raw, the better it is. Within Hellaware, the film follows a photographer named Nate (Keith Poulson) who is trying to score an art gallery show.
Even after his girlfriend dumps him for a guy in pigtails whose art lies in Crayola crayons, Nate fails to find anything in life worthwhile to capture on film to see its natural beauty, even though he is living in the silver city of New York. This is where he comes across a YouTube video of a band called Young Torture Killaz performing a song titled "I'll Cut Yo Dick Off". It's easy to see the comparisons to Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse, and Gwar here, but on a much less fun and theatrical level. Nate realizes that this band is his next subject as he journeys out to capture their essence of redemption or lack thereof. Comedy ensues when Nate and his partner Bernadette travel to one of their concerts, only to find that they perform in their parent's basement for a couple of die-hard fans who dress up in clown makeup and live day to day by drinking and partaking in various drugs.
It's here where the true theme of the movie kicks in as Bilandic weaves a web of his main protagonist into convincing everyone around him that Young Torture Killaz and their images are worthy of a posh, New York gallery art show. Bilandic writes his dialogue in a realistic way and even in 2014, the movie feels very relevant today with hipster culture in the way that each character seems to have an arrogant sense of entitlement and being above it all. It's truly hilarious to watch unfold as Nate travels to coffee and lunches with his peers as he persuades everyone to come to see his new work, which the band themselves are definitely against.
It might all seem drab and moot, but the final few minutes make it all worth it in the best way possible that rings very true in this cynical and super-funny world everyone is living in. Hellaware doesn't have any fancy camera techniques are big action sequences, but it serves its dish with pride, telling a comical tale of how culture and art have collided in recent years for better or worse.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Hellaware cuts its way to Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome with one Blu-ray Disc that is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case. If you order from Vinegar syndrome it comes with a stylish exclusive slipcover. There is a booklet inside that features a few essays on the movie and some film info. The artwork is reversible where on one side, a black and white illustration of the band and the main character is featured. On the opposite side is just a purple cover with the title of the film.
Hellaware comes with a good 1080p HD image that manages to impress even with its source. The movie looks to be shot on mid-grade consumer digital cameras so the detail and color palette can vary. In well-lit interiors like the art gallery, colors look good with primaries popping a bit in the images on the wall that looks good against a white background. In the darker basement with studio lighting, the color palette is more tame and dull with faded greens, browns, and beiges taking up most of the screen. That seems to be the case in most instances whether inside a restaurant, an office, or another interior setting. The detail in facial features and clothing don't reveal too many things, although, some facial stubble, zits, and even wrinkles barely show up in well-lit scenarios. It's a flat-looking image with some video issues, but it doesn't necessarily take away from the story.
This release comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix that sounds good enough for the sardonic comedy that it is. There aren't too many sound effects here or action sequences, so sound effects are rare, but the ambient noise from restaurants and people in the background sound decent. But again, it's a flat sound. Things really pick up inside the basement when the band is performing and when their infamous song plays out loud. Other than that, the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow in most sections, but since the sound was recorded guerilla-style, it can be difficult to hear certain things.
In addition to the audio commentary, there are about 17 minutes of bonus features, all of which are just B-roll footage. There are no interviews of any kind.
- Audio Commentary - The writer/Director, Actor, and cinematographer all come together for a commentary track where they give some tidbits and insight into the making of the movie. It doesn't sound great as the recording equipment probably wasn't good, but the trio of filmmakers all seem to have fond memories.
- Behind The Scenes (HD, 6 Mins.) - Some amateur B-Roll footage of the cast and crew rehearsing, setting up shots, and capturing action. There are no interviews or anything of the sort here.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 Mins.) - A collection of scenes that didn't make it to the final cut of the film, none of which add anything vital to the story.
- Music Video (HD, 2 Mins.) - The music video for the infamous song in the movie is featured here in its low-budget glory.
- Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
- Booklet - There is a booklet full of essays and information about the film.
Hellaware basically predicted the future with its take on hipsters and the art scene that continues to be present in New York and the rest of the world. It's a darkly funny film that tackles their world for better or worse. The 1080p HD video and the 2.0 stereo audio track are both serviceable with some slim bonus features. At the very least, it's Worth A Look!
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