Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

 

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

Directed by Rodman Flender

2010

 

Featuring:

Conan O’Brien

Andy Richter

Jimmy Vivino

Scott Healy

Mike Merritt

James Wormworth

Rachael Rosenberg

Fredericka Meek

Mark Pender

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Pariah

Video: Magnolia

 

Video:

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Disc Size: BD25

Feature size: ca. 19 GB

Bit Rate: High (30-35 Mbps)

Runtime: 89 minutes

Chapter: 11

Region: All

 

Audio: 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English LPCM 2.0

 

Subtitles: English

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with O’Brien, Andy Richter, Mike Sweeney & Sona Movsesian

• Interview with Conan O’Brien - in HD (14:25)

• Interview Outtakes - in HD (3:30)

• 11 Additional Scenes - in HD (42:00)

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray case: BRD x 1

Release Date: September 13, 2011



Synopsis [Magnolia]:

After a much publicized departure from hosting NBC's "Tonight Show," Conan O'Brien hit the road with a 32-city music-and-comedy show. "The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour" was O'Brien's answer to a contractual stipulation that banned his appearance on television, radio and the internet for six months following his last show. Filmmaker Rodman Flender's resulting documentary, CONAN O'BRIEN CAN T STOP, is an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career.


     

 

The Movie : 7

Critical Response:

Los Angeles Times:

The title — "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" — is as much a diagnosis as an ironic understatement in this hyperbolic fugue-documentary that follows the fast and furious comic blur as he burns through some very dark times. Rodman Flender may be the director, but O'Brien is setting the agenda and the breakneck pace. . . The film unfolds during the legally imposed TV blackout designed to keep O'Brien mostly gagged for about six months in 2010 after his brief gig as host of "The Tonight Show" publicly imploded. The very messy final chapter in his mostly successful 22-year run with NBC (briefly interrupted in the early '90s for "The Simpsons") — which began in '88 with "Saturday Night Live," thrived for years at "Late Night" before infamously ending on "Tonight" — left the comic bitter and at loose ends. Which is to say, somewhere between purgatory and pure hell for a guy whose every breath depends on playing to a crowd.

 

Just as O'Brien doesn't seem to have an "off" switch, neither does the filmmaker. On the plus side, it enables us to see the comic not only at his best, but at his worst — impatient, whiny, turning his frustrations into acerbic cuts that sting friend and foe alike. But in never stepping out of the maelstrom, Flender fails to mine the rich access he has for any deep insight into all that raw ambition he's exposing, something that documentarians Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg did to such riveting effect in their 2010 portrait of another driven comic, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work." - Betsy Sharkey


     

 

New York Times:

Mr. O’Brien is seen fretting, fuming and occasionally rejoicing while in the throes of what looks like a sustained adrenaline rush. At one point he exults that for the first time in his career people have actually paid to see him. The film also reveals the grueling labor of putting together an act, taking it on the road and enduring such necessary rituals as greeting fans with whom you don’t want to spend time.

 

If “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” is consistently watchable, it isn’t especially funny, nor does it give any deeper insight into its star than you might get from seeing his late-night shows. Mr. O’Brien, a Harvard-educated entertainer from an upper-middle-class background in Brookline, Mass., is certainly smart. The way he tosses off witticisms both onstage and back suggests a mind so supercharged it risks eating itself. In one amusing stage bit he notes his own physical resemblance to Jimmy Neutron and Tilda Swinton. But a longer monologue in which he identifies “the four stages of anger” doesn’t quite pay off. . . As a tour documentary “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” leaves much to be desired. You long to see more of this rock ’n’ roll comedy extravaganza than the film’s scattered short excerpts provide.  - Stephen Holden


     

 

Chicago Sun-Times:

Here is a man driven to assert himself. He waited five years for "The Tonight Show," lost it in months and needed to say to the universe, "Sir! I exist!" The film, directed by Rodman Flender, watches him before and after shows and en route between cities, seeing a man incapable of giving himself a break. Overworked, exhausted, assaulted by demands, he cannot say no to an autograph, patiently hosts waves of visitors in his dressing room, drums up work on his days off and at times seems on the edge of madness. 

 

Everyone around him pays a price. He relentlessly nibbles away at his support system, picks on his personal assistant, needles his sidekick Andy Richter and dominates his "writers" so compulsively that I can hardly recall one of them being allowed to say anything at meetings. He seems to consider them more of an audience. . . Why these people stay with him is a mystery. My guess is that they know him better than we do and realize he's undergoing a crisis. He's driven. After shows, exhausted, he insists on going out to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. The photos in particular are a version of the Water Torture Test for celebrities. The fan hands a camera to a friend or bystander, who inevitably doesn't know how to operate it.  - Roger Ebert


     

 

Image: 4~7/8

In respect to image quality alone, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is no Inside Job – the latter being a benchmark for documentary picture quality. But then, COBCS is an entirely different animal.  It means to be informal, ad hoc, behind the behind the scenes. It’s not the fault or the provenance of Magnolia to reconsider the image and somehow “correct” its occasional amateurish look.  The camera follows Conan O’Brien in rehearsal, meeting rooms, backstage, on stage, in cars.  I’m surprised we don’t see him in the shower – or maybe that was when I went to the kitchen to get a beer.  It’s not that COBCS is poor or weak, it’s just that it’s inconsistent, depending on the location, and many of these do not show off the medium to its best advantage.  Most of the time, however, image quality is better than acceptable and is given a boost in this high definition presentation.


     

 

Audio & Music: 7

COBCS on Blu-ray joins the crowd of oh so many movies not originally conceived in surround sound, but later mixed with the Blu-ray target audience in mind. As it happens, except for the performance excerpts and band rehearsals where the soundstage offers plenty of theater  or room ambiance, the audio is very much front direct, as it should be.  Dialogue is always clear regardless of venue.  The music is nothing if not novel.


     

 

Extras: 8

Ah, here is where home video shines, where we get to see a movie all over again from a different perspective- in this case by way of the accompanying commentary and laugh track courtesy of O’Brien, Andy Richter, head writer Mike Sweeney & Conan assistant Sona Movsesian.  As it turned out I liked this better than the movie, which struck me as repetitive and tortured at times.  Both the Interview with Conan O’Brien and the Interview Outtakes are courtesy AT&T U-Verse. The interview has an EPK feel t it, though strained through Conan’s filter, but the Outtakes are a hoot and pure Conan.  Finally, there is an additional 42 minutes of additional material that will not go unwatched by Conan loyalists.


     

 

Recommendation: 7

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a slice of life behind the curtain, a picture of a driven man and his loyal crew that we would not know about otherwise.  Whatever else we might think or feel about Conan the performer, it took guts to reveal himself in this way – warts and all, as they say, and we, his audience, are the better for the insight.


    

 


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

September 11, 2011



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