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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Stewart Copeland
Cast:
The Police (Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland)
Writing Credits:
Stewart Copeland

Synopsis:
Throughout their career, Police drummer Stewart Copeland documented the band on a Super-8 camera. The footage lay dormant for some time as Copeland struggled to piece the film into a cohesive whole, but thanks to advances in technology, he has managed to construct Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out. The footage offers a glimpse at life on the road with the band, along with studio sessions, huge concert performances, and subtle hints as to why the group broke up. For a fan of the Police, this is essential viewing; for anyone else, it's a fascinating up-close portrait of a band's rise to fame.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English PCM Stereo
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
German
Brazilian Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 9/12/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Band Members Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers
• “Behind Andy’s Camel” Outtakes
• “Live ‘Shards’”


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Police: Everyone Stares - The Police Inside Out (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 8, 2007)

With the Police on the verge of their first public live performances in 21 years – and their first official tour since 1984 – I thought it might be nice to look back on the band in their original period together. We can check them out from a very knowledgeable source via a documentary called Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out.

How knowledgeable? About as involved as you can get, since Police drummer Stewart Copeland directed the flick. And filmed most of it as well, as the footage largely comes from the little Super 8 camera he bought in 1978.

At the start of Stares, Copeland provides a quick narration about the band’s formation and very early days, and then we launch into the Super 8 material. This footage follows the band on tour. It shows them in their private time as well as on stage. We trace them from their first American tour in 1978 up through the band’s essential dissolution in 1984.

Don’t expect much about the later days, though, as the early years of the Police dominate. Indeed, Stares throws out only minor info about 1981’s Ghost in the Machine and it totally ignores their final album, the mega-successful 1983 release Synchronicity. Perhaps Copeland didn’t document those days as well, or perhaps band tensions – alluded to during the bits we hear about Ghost - grew too great. I could understand it Copeland didn’t want Stares to turn into the Police’s version of Let It Be, which might have led him to de-emphasize the band’s fracturing in its last years.

Not that Copeland ignores the Police’s famously antagonistic ways. He does make some reference to internal dissent, though don’t expect a lot of discussion about that side of things. Indeed, the movie’s footage tends to make life with the Police look happy and jovial. The material essentially falls into three camps: concert shots, various folks goofing off for the camera, or travel images.

The first are fun. Despite the low quality of the footage, it’s still a blast to check out the Police as they performed. The other two aspects of the film offer less entertainment. Copeland includes so many shots from various locations that Stares threatens to turn into a travelogue. Granted, these illustrate what it’s like to tour, as we learn that his life eventually turned into little more than an endless string of hotel rooms, but they don’t make for fascinating viewing.

As for the second kind of footage, those pieces have more ups and downs. On one hand, they come across as artificial. Stares includes very little material I would actually call “candid”. We don’t often feel like we’re in that fly on the wall position, simply because when Copeland brought out his camera, most of the people decided to clown for it.

A few good observations occur. It’s interesting to see the low-rent nature of the band’s early tours, as they schlep their own bags to cheap motels. We also check out record signings with sparse attendance and get a fine feel for the swell of support that quickly grew. Stares definitely offers a good look at how they developed from so little into arguably the world’s most popular band.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but wish that we got a little more real insight. Copeland’s narration helps. He seems fairly candid, and his comments offer both wit and insight. He should have worked a little harder to make the film’s timeline work, though. The footage tends to jump from era to era with abandon, so we often see material from one year while he discusses another.

In addition, I think Copeland offers a little revisionist history. We know now that the band essentially died once the Synchronicity tour ended in 1984. Sure, they reunited briefly in 1986 for some re-recordings of hits and a few live shows on the Amnesty International “Conspiracy of Hope” tour, and they’re now about to embark on a massive new tour, but in 1984, they didn’t appear aware that this long hiatus would occur. Actually, I speculate that Sting was pretty set to move onto a solo career, but interviews from the time make it look like Summers and Copeland fully expected the Police to continue after a short break.

Stares offers a different picture. In it, Copeland tries to convince us that the breakup was a done deal at the time, not a temporary recess. Maybe that’s true; obviously Copeland would know more about what really happened than I would. However, based on my knowledge of the period, I don’t think the band’s virtual demise was as clear as the film makes it appear, and I think a few other historical concepts presented here benefit from hindsight as well.

One technical complaint: I’m not wild about the choice to present Stares in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Film fans worry that with the growing popularity of widescreen TVs, DVDs will start to crop material shot 1.33:1 to fill the 16X9 sets. We’ve already seen that with a few projects, and Stares seems to fit that description. The original Super 8 footage obviously was 1.33:1, so this flick has to crop it to become 1.78:1. I don’t much care for that decision or understand it.

As a Police fan, Everyone Stares both delights and frustrates me. On one hand, it does offer a real insider’s look at the band. On the other, it doesn’t exploit the opportunities as well as I’d like. It’s entertaining and fun but not as deep and insightful as I’d hoped.


The DVD Grades: Picture D/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I expected weak visuals from Stares and that’s what I got.

In no way did I regard that as a fault with the transfer. Since the vast majority of Stares came from decades-old Super 8 footage, it became inevitable that it wouldn’t look good. Sharpness was passable at best. The lower-resolution of the format meant that the shots usually seemed loose and not terribly distinctive. Jagged edges and shimmering weren’t an issue, and I noticed no edge enhancement.

Source flaws were a greater – and more inevitable – distraction. Grain was very heavy, and I also noticed examples of specks, marks and other debris. The grain was especially unavoidable, and it’s not a surprise to find such old footage with the other defects.

Colors tended to be bland and mushy. The heavy grain submerged them to a degree, but I don’t think they’d look good in any case. Though the hues were fine given the restrictions, they’re no better than that. Blacks were similarly flat, and shadows seemed dense and opaque. Again, since the footage came from older material shot on Super 8, I didn’t anticipate attractive visuals. However, I want to make sure the viewer knows that this will be an ugly presentation.

On the other hand, the audio of Everyone Stares proved more successful. The DVD included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Other than the fact the DTS one seemed a little louder, I thought both were virtually identical.

Stares mixed audio recorded by Copeland’s Super 8 camera and studio music recordings. As one might expect, the former sounded the worst. They tended to be thin and shrill, with some definite distortion at times. This was most noticeable during some of the live performances; those could be really rough. For the most part, though, the Super 8 audio was feeble but clear.

At least the studio music compensated, and since that material made up much of the track, the audio worked well. The songs sounded bright and lively. They showed good clarity along with nice depth and concision. Copeland’s narration also was warm and natural.

As for the soundfield, it heavily promoted the music. The songs usually focused on the front channels, though they spread reasonably efficiently to the surrounds. While these didn’t give us a wild five-channel soundfield, they showed good imaging and delineation throughout the program. The mix of good and bad left the tracks with “B” grades.

Three kinds of extras appear here. First we discover an audio commentary from band members Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They tend to stick very closely to the action on-screen. This means much of the time we hear little more than identification of various locations. In addition, we get some information about performances, band and crew, the atmosphere of the different eras, and musical details.

Frankly, I can’t say that I remember a whole lot of interesting notes. Copeland dominates the piece, and he also relates some issues connected to the film’s assembly. Otherwise, the info tends to remain pretty lackluster. We don’t get a good feel for creating the music or being in such a hit band, as we usually just hear comments like “that was in Vancouver”. When Copeland and Summers actually let us know what it was like to be in the Police, I enjoyed the track. Unfortunately, since those moments occur infrequently, it didn’t leave me with a satisfied feeling.

Next we get some outtakes under the banner of Behind Andy’s Camel. This area includes 10 segments that fill a total of 14 minutes, 18 seconds of footage. These clips really fall into the category of odds and ends. None of them last very long, and they don’t present anything more than nutty moments such as manager Miles Copeland’s vocal for “Every Breath You Take”. Actually, that bit’s pretty funny, and we get some interesting shots of Sting when he reacts to various chart positions. Most of the material seems pretty forgettable, though.

Finally, Live “Shards” offers shots from the stage over the years. We get 10 song pieces here, usually from the earlier days. These include “So Lonely”, “Roxanne” (Spain), “Can’t Stand Losing You”, “Roxanne” (Federal Correction Institution Terminal Island), “Fall Out”, “Landlord”, “Truth Hits Everybody” (Pink Pop Festival), “Truth Hits Everybody” (Belgium), “Walking on the Moon” and “Message in a Bottle”.

Don’t expect extensive footage here, as all together, the “shards” only last 10 minutes, 21 seconds. The quality equals what we see in the full movie, which means the material looks and sounds terrible. Nonetheless, the footage is fun to see, as it gives us glimpses of the band at various stages in their evolution, though we don’t see much of the later years.

That’s a criticism I’d level at Everyone Stares as a whole: it covers the early era of the Police in a satisfying way but skimps on the band’s last few years. I also can’t call it an especially tight little documentary, but I think it satisfies nonetheless. As a Police fan, it’s simply really cool to see the band’s development from the inside via all the home movie footage. Picture quality stinks, but that’s to be expected, and audio is usually pretty good. Extras are pretty ordinary, especially since the commentary with two-thirds of the Police proves surprisingly uninformative. This is a good pick-up for serious Police fans but probably won’t do much for others.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main