Streamers (DVD)

When the Streamers DVD fell out of the envelope, there was a momentary panic here at Screenjabber Towers. Matthew Modine? In a film by Robert Altman? And — gulp — we've never heard of it? Yikes. For a moment there, we thought we were heading off to film reviewing confession (for ten Hail Mary Pickfords and five Godfathers). Twenty minutes in though and we realised why we'd never heard of it. This is very minor Altman from 1983, a very stagey recreation of an almost embarrassingly earnest play by David Rabe. Altman had found cinematic success the year before with a theatrical adaptation, the almost all-female, and still charming, Come Back To The Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. It's not so surprising then that this experimental director then attempted an all-male theatrical adaptation. It's just a shame that he didn't wait for something better to come along.

Four young Army recruits — Billy (Modine), Richie (Lichtenstein), Roger (Grier) and Carlyle (Wright) — are sitting around the barracks, waiting to be shipped out to Vietnam when they're forced to confront their individual prejudices when they realise that Richie is homosexual. And they talk. And talk. And talk. And stab and talk and talk and stab and... well, you get the picture. This is the sort of thing that drama students sit around and discuss, and quite what attracted the dirctor to it remains a mystery. There's a certain curiosity value for Altman completists — but not much else to recommend it.

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Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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