by Joshua T. Dies
RuckusFilm finally brings to the masses what the world so desperately needs: more Minton Sparks!
If you’re familiar with Sparks’ work, then you know what a treasure Nashville has in the poet/storyteller/comedienne. Her sassy-molassy take on Southern culture is at once refreshing and timeless. Now in addition to your CD collection of Sparks’ hilarious wit, you can purchase a DVD of a live performance.
"Open Casket" is a fantastic documentary of Sparks’ one woman show. The cinematography is a little shaky but hardly noticeable. Sparks looks comfortable on stage and likewise on screen. She has the presence of a veteran movie star. Cuts to the crowd reveal a rapt audience leaning forward in their chairs, eagerly awaiting the next syllable. Kudos to the editing for some brilliant shots, such as the incredible last piece featuring a team up between Minton and the beautiful Maura O’Connell, or during Ambulance Chasers, in which the close-up of Minton comes in and out of focus, deliciously adding a bit of personality to the already fantastic story. The opening and closing footage of Sparks in a familiar looking local cemetery is fabulous and very smartly bookends the feature.
Sparks is joined on stage by John Jackson on guitar, Steve Conn on keyboards and accordion, Pat Flynn on mandolin and guitar, and the aforementioned Maura O’Connell. There are also bonus features, which include deleted scenes from the same performance of "Open Casket," as well as archival footage – vintage Minton.
It’s wonderful to see Minton Sparks continue to succeed. As many forms of spoken word performance have gained a following over the past ten years, Sparks gives a sweet-tea laced shot in the arm to the age old tradition of storytelling. Her stories feel genuine and from the heart, no matter how outlandish. Director Coke Sams and executive producer Clarke Gallivan have done an excellent job of presenting Sparks grace and humor.
With the bonus features, there are 21 outstanding pieces by Sparks and 21 solid reasons to buy this DVD.