Blu-ray Review: Inserts - Twilight Time Limited Edition

By , Contributor
Inserts is a very interesting, very intense film from 1975 that was basically shot in 'real time.' Richard Dreyfuss delivers a staggering turn as Boy Wonder, a genius-level film director in the 1930s who's career has been reduced to cranking out porn flicks. The Boy Wonder's decline is due to self-destructive tendencies and untreated, barely-acknowledged alcoholism. As directed by John Byrum (The Razor's Edge, Heart Beat, Duets), Inserts unfolds much like a stage production. There are but five characters and one set—the home of Boy Wonder (also where he shoots his films). Now rated NC-17, the film originally received an X rating. Though undoubtedly sexually explicit, in both cases the ratings board probably overreacted (there's plenty of exposed flesh, but nothing that really crosses the line of what is often seen in modern R-rated films).

Twilight Time has issued this genuine curiosity on Blu-ray as a limited edition (just 3,000 copies available). 
 
Inserts BD cover (301x380).jpg While a young Hollywood hotshot (who happens to be Clark Gable—unseen throughout the picture, but often referenced) longs to work with Boy Wonder, it's clear that will never happen. We're plopped into the midst of what appears to be a typical day for the filmmaker. He's in his living room of his admittedly impressive home prepping to shoot a sex rather aggressive sex scene between Harlene (Veronica Cartwright) and Rex (Stephen Davies). Harlene is a heroin addict. Rex hopes to crossover into "real" movies, though Boy Wonder ridicules him for not realizing his upcoming appointment with a supposedly legit producer is just a "casting couch" situation.

While Rex wants out of the porn industry, Cathy (Jessica Harper) wants in. She shows up at Boy Wonder's house along with Big Mac (Bob Hoskins), Boy Wonder's gruff financier. Cathy's interest in diving into the world of adult films sets up a sickly-yet-fascinating turning of the tables in Inserts' third act. Dreyfuss and Harper are difficult to turn away from, regardless of the generally unpleasant nature of the subject matter. Boy Wonder, afflicted with serious sexual dysfunction resulting from his near-constant alcohol intake, is drawn into a bizarre seduction scenario by his new would-be starlet Cathy.

No fair revealing more, as Inserts is more of a character study than a traditionally plot-driven affair. While it may seem overly cautious to be concerned about "spoilers" for a 41-year-old film, the fact remains that—due to its status as a very seldom-seen cult film —most viewers will be new to Inserts. Not only is Dreyfuss at the top of his game, Cartwright is heartbreaking in her supporting turn as the badly damaged porn star Harlene. Though director Byrum (who also wrote the screenplay) perhaps takes a bit too long to tell what is an admittedly slim story, his work here is worth seeing. Adventurous viewers seeking something truly off kilter would do well to invest the time.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray offers a clean, clear transfer of Denys N. Coop's cinematography. The DTS-HD MA mono mix is similarly strong (though sonic flourishes are minimal throughout this particular film). The disc is pretty bare bones, apart from the theatrical trailer and TT's customary isolated score track.

For ordering information, while supplies of Inserts last, visit Screen Archives. Alternatively, visit the Twilight Time official site.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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