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THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE ($27) may not be the greatest "who done it ever" made, but this stylish and unusual genre entry allows leading man Samuel L. Jackson to give one of his strongest performances. In THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE, Jackson portrays Romulus Ledbetter, a brilliant pianist/composer, who studied at Julliard and had a very promising musical career, until he suffered a mental breakdown. Now homeless and living in a cave in a New York City park, Romulus is delusional and suffers from paranoid fantasies involving someone named Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant. Romulus believes Stuyvesant to be some sort of all seeing individual, who is constantly watching him from high atop the Chrysler Building.

Early one winter morning, when Romulus leaves his cave, he discovers a dead body perched in one of the trees that sit right outside his "doorstep." Making his way to a payphone, Romulus calls his daughter, who is a police officer, to tell her what he has discovered. When the body turns out to be that of a homeless young man, the police write off his death as an unfortunate side effect of the man’s "living" situation. However, Romulus is convinced that his nemesis Stuyvesant has murdered the young man and tries to convince the police of his assertions. Of course, the cops ignore the rantings of a crazy homeless man, which compels Romulus to begin his own investigation. It is at this point; the plot of THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE becomes quite far fetched. With the aid of a Good Samaritan, who supplies him with a bath and a change of clothes, Romulus feigns sanity to use an old friend’s connections to find proof of the murder and the identity the killer.

Despite the plot holes, THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE proves to be rather entertaining and the mystery aspects of the story do keep one guessing. Samuel L. Jackson’s powerful performance makes every moment of the film worth watching. Kasi Lemmons’ direction is very stylish and the film provides an impressive visualization Romulus’ mental anguish. Additionally, THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE surrounds Samuel L. Jackson with a very solid supporting cast that includes Ann Magnuson, Tamara Tunie, Damir Andrei, Aunjanue Ellis, Colm Feore, Peter MacNeill, Jay Rodan, Rodney Eastman and Anthony Michael Hall.

Universal Home Video has made THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE available in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a terrific looking transfer that brings out the beauty of Amelia Vincent’s cinematography and Robin Standefer’s production design. The image is incredibly sharp and wonderfully rich in detail. Colors are deeply saturated, yet the actors’ flesh tones are rendered with a very natural appearance. Despite the intensity of the strongest hues, the picture betrays no signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are pretty accurate and the image produces a very good level of shadow detail. Contrast is also quite good, despite some of the film’s more stylized photographic effects. The film element used for the transfer displays a handful of minor blemishes. Clean dual layer authoring masks all signs of digital compression artifacts.

THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE features a very good Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound mix is rather aggressive, with the sound designers utilizing all of the channels, especially the surrounds, to convey the Romulus’ inner turmoil during his delusional episodes. There is a flurry of sounds that move about the soundstage to effectively convey the chaos inside the character’s mind. Voices are reproduced with a very natural timber and their dialogue is completely intelligible. Frequency response is excellent, which allows the film’s music to be produced with a fluid, full-bodied sound. The bottom end is very deep and low, which serves the material very well. THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE also includes a DTS 5.1 channel soundtrack. The DTS track is very similar to its Dolby Digital counterpart, although there is a bit more resolution that allows for more convincing sound effects, somewhat better musical fidelity and stronger, tighter bass. English and French subtitles are encoded onto the DVD.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Director Kasi Lemmons and film editor Terilyn Shropshire are featured on a running audio commentary. The talk is okay, a bit slow in places and not as entertaining as some commentary tracks, but it does convey the filmmakers’ artistic intentions. Also included on the DVD are four deleted scenes, production notes and cast biographies/filmographies.

THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE is an entertaining film that benefits from a very good cast, headed up by Samuel L. Jackson. If you are enamored with Jackson’s work, you’ll want to check out THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE on DVD. Additionally, Universal has produced a first rate DVD, making this a disc that many of his fans will want to keep.


The Caveman's Valentine


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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