My Wrongs... is a film that arrives with certain expectations. Firstly, it comes from the mind of Chris Morris who, through his work on such television series’ as The Day Today and Brass Eye, has proven himself to be one of the UK’s leading satirists, not to mention one of the most controversial (“Sickest TV ever” screamed a Sun headline over Brass Eye’s ‘Paedogeddon’ special). Secondly, it stars Paddy Considine, who is fast becoming Britain’s finest actor following work on such films as A Room for Romeo Brass, Last Resort and 24 Hour Party People. And finally, it marks the first foray into film production for experimental dance label Warp Records, who have provided us with such aural pleasures as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher... and Vincent Gallo(!) as well as issuing Morris’ Blue Jam radio series on CD.
Yet there is something of an edge of defeat about My Wrongs...; being a spin-off from a Blue Jam monologue (Blue Jam having also seen TV spin-offs in the form of Jam and jaaaaam), there is little evidence of Chris Morris furthering himself. Of course it could be argued that Morris has been ploughing the same furrow throughout his career (the announcement of Jimmy Saville’s death which caused Radio One to sack him being echoed in the “Noel Edmunds gone berserk” report in Brass Eye, for example), yet one would hope that a switch in mediums would provoke him to try and extend his repertoire.
And yet Chris Morris proves himself remarkably adept at handling the cinematic form. Providing himself with a fairly simple set-up (Paddy Considine’s character is looking after a friends dog, who begins to speak when taken out for a walk, resulting in ever stranger experiences), Morris creates a genuinely different look at this odd reality, never allowing the narrative to progress in the way one would expect (if, that is, you could predict where Morris may be leading you).
Following in the footsteps of David Lynch, Morris also has a hand in the sound design, creating an eerie electro-ambient accompaniment to the proceedings. Adding to the general uncertainty, the score also proves to be slightly nauseating (in a good way), creating a sense of unity with Considine’s character (who is never named, by the way, and merely referred to as “Him” in the closing credits), which is quite some feat considering what he goes through.
Where My Wrongs... differs from the radio monologue is the lack of explanation for what is occurring; Morris preferring to leave the film in the audiences hands as to whether we are seeing a “reality” as such or merely the delusions of a man on his way to a breakdown. Its humour is also less apparent in cinematic form, the verbosity for which Morris is rightly celebrated kept to a minimum, allowing instead the situations to speak for themselves. (Although Morris does still provide us with some choice moments: Considine at one point “given a dead leg of the head”; a double decker marked “Shit Off.”)
Picture and Sound
Shot on digital video, the disc offers the best possible transfer considering the materials. Presented in anamorphic 16:9, the picture is consistently sharp.
Likewise, the audio (offering a choice of 2.0 or 5.1) ably copes with Morris’ intricate sound designs, the sense of unease captured perfectly. For those who can take a little more, an alternate 5.1 mix is available which provides more emphasis on the background music. Again, this works perfectly well.
Audio Commentary Supplied by production assistant Nick Kilroy, this commentary ranks amongst the more bizarre. After offering his personal take on the proceedings, Kilroy digresses into a brief history of dogs in the movies and their acting capabilities. Referencing Casablanca, existentialism, the Lumiere brothers, as well as Groucho Marx and Sam Fuller, his arguments are generally sound...and yet I do get the impression that this another of Chris Morris’ absurdist jokes designed to snare in the film-obsessed such as myself. Seen in this light, the commentary is frequently hilarious on a second hearing, and I’m sure I could hear Kilroy’s tongue in his cheek.
Blue Jam Monologue It seems only fair that the film's origin should be added, even if it somewhat to the films detriment. As said, the piece highlights Morris’ skill at wordplay and is frequently hilarious. (The monologue is also accompanied by somewhat hypnotic visuals.)
Special Effects Featurette A simple shot-by-shot breakdown of how the dog was animated to talk; no commentary is offered, though the piece is pretty much self-explanatory
Cartelcommunique/Osymyso Remix The disc’s standout moment, this intercuts excerpts from the film and footage of famed seventies dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse. Of course, this being a Chris Morris DVD the footage is somewhat manipulated, allowing Woodhouse to speak such phrases as “turn him [your dog] ‘round and he will walk into vehicles.” Offering a glib take on the William S. Burroughs “cut-up” technique, this is highly amusing.
Easter Egg A brief snippet from the Jam television series, used to promote its DVD release.
Not a usual category for DVD Times, it is worth noting that My Wrongs... comes in the form of a hardback book, strangely reminiscent of Penguin’s hardbacks for children. Of course, this can cause problems when removing the disc, but it’s nice to see a company attempting something a little different.
Whilst perhaps not living up to its (admittedly high) expectations, My Wrongs... offers enough pleasures to ensure, at least, a first viewing. Moreover, the excellent supplementary materials, not to mention the cheap price, should sway the unsure.
To coincide with Channel Four's screening tonight Anthony Nield has reviewed the Region 2 release of My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117.