• Rondo (Artsploitation Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: June 4th, 2019.
    Director: Drew Barnhardt
    Cast: G.C. Clark, Ketrick ‘Jazz’ Copeland, Reggie De Morton, Ashley Gagnon
    Year: 2018
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    Rondo – Movie Review:

    Drew Barnhardt’s genre-bending 2018 picture Rondo tells the story of a man named Paul (Luke Sorge) who has been given a dishonorable discharge from the military and who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. These issues, combined with his tendency to self-medicate using alcohol, have led to employment problems for Paul, and he’s quite lucky that his sister, Jill (Brenna Otts), pities him enough to let him crash on her couch at her place in Denver. Her charity is not without limit, however, and in hopes of helping him get his life back together (and to free up her couch space) she sends him to see a therapist named Cassie (Gena Shaw).

    Cassie tells Paul what she thinks he needs to get his head back in order – he needs to get out there, meet people, broaden his social standing and have lots of sex, ideally of the kinkier variety. She tells him about a ‘Rondo Party’ happening soon, tells him the password he’ll need to get in, and sends him on his way. Paul arrives at the fancy apartment where the host, Lurdell (Reggie De Morton), explains the rules of the event and how they relate to the participants and to their subject, woman named Mrs. Tim (Iva Nora). Paul is instantly uneasy about all of this. The party gets underway and Paul decides this is not the scene for him. He tries to split, but things get… complicated from here on out.

    Ronda is a lot of things. It’s a pitch-black comedy, it’s a horror film, it’s a revenge story, it’s a character piece, it’s an action movie. But most of all, it’s ambitious. Barnhardt doesn’t always aim what he’s shooting for but far more often than not, he hits his target. Occasionally a gag will fall flat or a performance will be less than perfect or the narration will seem unnecessary but overall, for a film made on a modest budget he and his crew get a LOT on the screen. It is a wildly creative film, pulling from many and varied influences, and it seems determined to play with, if not completely defy, audience expectations but if nothing else, the film entertains so long as you’re able to laugh at things you know you shouldn’t be laughing at.

    There’s a good bit of style to the movie. As over the top as it tends to go, it is nicely shot and features solid cinematography. The sound design in the picture is also pretty strong, and production values overall are quite good. Performances are also strong with Luke Sorge in particular really delivering the goods.

    Rondo – DVD Review:

    Rondo arrives on DVD from Artsploitation Films in nice looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors look good, compression is held in check and detail is probably about as strong as standard definition will really allow for. Shot digitally, there aren’t any issues with print damage or grain to discuss. Black levels are fine as well. No problems here, for a movie made on a modest budget the transfer is just fine.

    English language tracks are provided in Dolby Digital. 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with removable subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go if you’ve got a surround sound set up as it does a nice job of opening the film up rather well. No problems to report here – balance is good, the track is clean and dialogue is easy to follow.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with writer/director Drew Barnhardt and producer Guy Clark. Lots of ground covered here – from where some of the story ideas came from to casting the film to the locations that were used. They also cover some influences, who did what behind the scenes and quite a bit more. Additionally, there’s a track available with composer Ryan Franks that covers select scenes from the film. Understandably, this one focuses on the music in the film as Franks talks about his creative process and explains what he did to complete his work on the picture.

    The disc also contains four deleted scenes running seven-minutes available with or without commentary from Barnhardt, two trailers for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Rondo – The Final Word:

    Rondo is a remarkably ambitious film and a pretty unique mix of genres. Artsploitation Films’ DVD release is a good one, presenting this intensely entertaining picture in a nice presentation and with some good extra features as well. Recommended.