By Matt Keay.
Back in the halcyon early days of DVD special features, the 1999 ‘Ghostbusters’ home video release was one of the benchmarks for supplementary material (the Lord Of The Rings appendices notwithstanding), covering most technical bases; the making of the film, the special effects, deleted scenes, workprint comparisons, trailers, and even a trivia track, among other delights.
With the exception of boutique labels such as Criterion, Masters Of Cinema, and Arrow, et al, the presentation of such features have fallen by the wayside somewhat; the majority of tentpole releases in the 21st century relying on studio-produced EPKs, ‘featurettes’, and if you’re really, really lucky, interactive menus. The release for ‘Ghostbusters’ and a handful of other releases from the 80s and 90s, showed us all how it was done.
‘Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters’ is a lovingly created, feature-length exploration of the making of the film, which would sit perfectly alongside the pantheon of great film-related documentaries such as ‘Dangerous Days’, ‘Hearts Of Darkness’, and ‘Lost In La Mancha’, and reminds this cinephile of the worth of the special feature as a integral part of home video as a ‘film school in a box’ endeavour.
‘Cleanin’ Up The Town’ has gathered a wealth of interviews with the cast and crew of ‘Ghostbusters’, (Bill Murray, however, is noticeably absent, but no surprise there), discussing all aspects of the production of the film. The documentary clearly comes from a place of love, and director/writer siblings Anthony and Claire Bueno’s passion for the film shines through, especially when considering their careful, meticulous, and heartfelt handling of the integrity of the source material, its legacy, and the lively stories the production staff can recall.
Interviews, set photos, and clips from the film are cleverly sandwiched between computer-generated mockups of important documents such as letters and scripts, and initially jarring but gradually charming animations of the interviewees’ comments. These flourishes set ‘Cleanin’ Up The Town’ apart from its run-of-the-mill contemporaries.
The film focuses heavily on the special effects involved, which is a fascinating part of the filmmaking process in the first instance, and none more so than in ‘Ghostbusters’ case. The sheer talent of men and women from around the world involved in the design, building, and realisation of said effects on screen is fully explored in ‘Cleanin’ Up The Town’, and the unsung work in the production of say, Slimer, or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, is enlightening, to say the least.
What is most enjoyable about ‘Cleanin’ Up The Town’, in fact, is the looks on the primary players in the film (Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, and Ivan Reitman) as they recount the genesis of the production, all the way through to the first test screening. It is genuine and truthful. What is clear is that the team are immensely proud of the cultural impact the film has had on the cinematic landscape.
The siblings Bueno have crafted an excellent and entertaining love letter to a movie that they clearly adore. The blood, sweat, and tears involved in making as in depth and informative a film as this is admirable in the extreme. For fans, it is indispensable, and the most special of features.
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