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Directed by Marc Singer
USA 200
0

 

"Dark Days" is the multi-award winning documentary from Marc Singer about a community of homeless people living in a train tunnel beneath Manhattan. The film depicts a way of life that is unimaginable to most of those who walk the streets above. In the pitch black of the tunnel, rats swarm through piles of garbage as high-speed trains leaving Penn Station tear through the darkness. For some of those who have gone underground, it has been home for as long as twenty-five years. The director abandoned life on the outside to spend all of his time in the tunnels, making it his home for two years. Surprisingly entertaining and deeply moving, "Dark Days" is an eye-opening experience that shatters the myths of homelessness with the strength and universality of the people the film represents.

***

Explores the lives of a community which chose to flee Manhattan's drug ravaged shelter system for life underground --... living in the city's Amtrak tunnels by drawing electricity from the tunnel's power lines and water from its pipes.

 

For years, a homeless community took root in a train tunnel beneath New York City, braving dangerous conditions and perpetual night. DARK DAYS explores this surprisingly domestic subterranean world, unearthing a way of life unimaginable to those above. Through stories simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, intimate, and off the cuff, tunnel dwellers reveal their reasons for taking refuge and their struggle to survive underground.

Filmed in striking black and white with a crew comprised of the tunnel’s inhabitants and scored by legendary turntablist DJ Shadow (Endtroducing…), DARK DAYS remains a soulful and enduring document of life on the fringe.

Singer's first film Dark Days, about a homeless community living in the tunnels underneath New York, was awarded the Freedom of Expression Award, Cinematography Award, and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. Dark Days was also awarded Best Documentary/Non-Fiction film of 2000 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary of 2000 from the IFP. Glowing reviews called the documentary “an extraordinarily powerful film,” “intimate, engrossing and at moments, even surprisingly funny.” The film was placed on many reviewers’ best films of 2000 lists.

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 27th, 2000 - Sundance Film Festival

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DVD Review: Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:22:00 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s  

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

Disc one
• Audio commentary with director Marc Singer

Disc two
• The Making of Dark Days (2000) – interviews with Marc Singer, DJ Shadow, and others (45:56)
• The Tunnel Today – director Marc Singer revisits the tunnel in 2011 (21:32)
• Fragile Dwelling – an all new photo essay featuring photographs by Margaret Morton (27:29)
• Dark Days Design – a look at the typography with title designer Jay Hillyer (5:07)
• Life After the Tunnel – an update on the characters (16:53)
• Introduction with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Q&A with Singer and Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless Mary E. Brosnahan at the Maysles Cinema in 2011 (31:03)
• Original theatrical trailer (:57)
• 16 Deleted scenes with notes by Marc Singer
With an exclusive essay by film critic Kenneth Turan

DVD Release Date: July 19th, 2011

Custom Digipak Case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

In 2001 Palm Pictures produced a single-disc DVD of Marc Singer's Dark Days. Oscilloscope Laboratories has a new 2-disc package advertised as 'all-new digital transfer from original 35 mm telecine'. We don't have the original to compare but the image quality looks grainy and consistent probably producing a strong representation of the theatrical. This is progressive, anamorphic in the 1.78:1 ratio and is clean without damage. There is no gloss and my research indicates that is visually is a strong representation of the original.

The audio track is flat with intentional moments of scattered dialogue - we can expect this from a documentary of this nature and Oscilloscope have efficiently added optional subtitles for dialogue that may be less discernable.

This is stacked with extras starting with a commentary from director Marc Singer on the feature disc. I only skimmed parts but assume it is the same one from the Palm Pictures releases of almost a decade ago. He talks with genuineness and produces a good listening experience exposing plenty of details beyond his excellent film. There is a second disc which includes the 45-minute Making of Dark Days from 2000 with interviews with Singer, DJ Shadow, and others. The Tunnel Today lasts 20-minutes as director Singer revisits the tunnel in 2011. This had interesting segments. Fragile Dwelling is an all new photo essay featuring photographs by Margaret Morton lasting short of 1/2 hour but this may be the best video feature. Dark Days Design takes a look at the typography with title designer Jay Hillyer for a brief 5-minutes and Life After the Tunnel is a 15-minute an update on the characters we met in the documentary. We get an introduction with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Q&A with Singer and Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless Mary E. Brosnahan at the Maysles Cinema in 2011. This runs more than 30-minutes and lastly, on the digital front, is a short original theatrical trailer of less than a minute and 16 Deleted scenes with notes by Marc Singe running about 1-2 minutes each. Part of the package is an exclusive essay by film critic Kenneth Turan of the LA Times.

Incredible what can go on under your very streets - and the irrefutable desire and survival aspects of people are explored as a fascinating and shocking exposition. This is an incredible documentary film and produces a response that is hard to analyze as it is so... human in nature. I've been, thankfully, exposed to a number of excellent documentaries in the past coupe of years and this would rank up there with the very best of them. Oscilloscope Laboratories have justly re-exposed this to an newer audience via a solid DVD package - as with there other efforts - complete, thorough and highly recommendable!   

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Disc Two


 


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Distribution Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC



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