Posts Tagged “6.2”

2001

September 19, 2009
Netflix DVD
Germany / USA
English
95 Minutes — March 19, 2005
Drama
Erik Skjoldbjaerg [Insomnia]

Overly depressing story of a young, talented journalist who gets a full-ride to Harvard and begins writing for Rolling Stone while trying to keep her unraveling life together. Ricci is fine as the real-life writer, but Jessica Lange was over-the-top and oppressive as her put-upon mother. Ricci enters therapy after her friends find her editing and re-editing an article on Bruce Springsteen, setting aside things like eating, sleeping, and bathing.

The 1980s references are spot on, the costumes worn to college parties perfect, and I remain unconvinced that mental illness can ever be properly captured on screen. She seems to grow more angry and paranoid, which isn’t the same as growing more depressed. I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the acting, but one scene of a person unable to get out of bed does not an in-depth portrait of serious depression make.

Say what you will about the overly-dramatized (and sanitized) Ron Howard film A BEAUTIFUL MIND, but when he was looking at all of his scribbling and the formulas jumped off the walls so that he could form them into the answer he was looking for, we at least understood that he sees numbers differently than we do.

No such luck here. Jason Biggs plays a way-too-patient love interest and Michelle Williams is one of her verbally attacked roommates.

6.2 IMDB

PROZAC NATION

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2008

June 29, 2009
DVD Screener
USA
English
104 Minutes
Drama
David Spaltro

There are few e-mail scarier than the ones I sometimes get that say “I made a film which I am distributing by myself and I was wondering if you’d watch it.” After more than a decade attending the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, I know just how many lousy, nay, unwatchable, films are made each year. Not a year goes by when I don’t shake my head wondering how on earth someone was given money to make the trash that just unspooled in front of me.

I can happily report that …AROUND (note the dots first) caused me to neither shake my fist at it, nor wish for my 104 minutes back. In fact, I am incredibly thankful to Director David Spaltro for introducing me to an actor named Rob Evans, who is charismatic and sexy in a Ryan Gosling/Ben Afleck/Edward Burns way. He seemed to be acting at a higher level than the others (and perhaps at a higher level than the material.)

The story would normally be another clue to send a viewer in the other direction. A guy moves to Manhattan, enrolls in a film school of dubious quality, runs out of money, uses credit cards to fund his cinematic vision, and ends up homeless but wiser for having met new people and experienced new things his suburban self wouldn’t have. The struggling first time filmmaker may be the single most popular storyline of struggling first time filmmakers. For obvious reasons.

Spaltro is not above having characters say things that would never be said. Witness two separate characters, one homeless, living in a train station, who somehow both know they exact highfallutin classic quote that our protagonist also lives by. That this understanding of great literature happens in a public men’s room doesn’t make it any less probable. But these mis-steps are few and far between.

I’m not as smitten with the main love interest, played by Molly Ryman, who I felt was out of her depth beside Evans. I did, however, enjoy a spunky actress (who may have been Indian-American), who we first meet having sex in the back of a car. She had an energy that seemed to suit the story. Saul, a homeless bookseller, is a welcome addition to the circle of friends. His character made me think of the real-life street people I’ve seen running a tiny business from a card table on the street.

The “homeless are people too” portions of the script didn’t override the story of a young man’s quest to live by his code, even if that code involved rotating several dozen credit cards and living under a roof only sporadically. Scenes where he picks up beauties in bars rang especially false due to the duct tape covering one of his Converses. I wonder if his target knew that he had showered that day in a shelter.

I look forward to what Spaltro does next. Word is that through some kind of distribution channel, this film should soon be available at both Amazon and Netflix. And then perhaps he can pay back all those creditors.

6.2 IMDB (43 Votes)

…AROUND

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2008

September 17, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA / UK / France
English
96 Minutes — September 12, 2008
Comedy / Crime
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Intelligence is relative.

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BURN AFTER READING is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 60. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 BURN AFTER READING Discussion
• Break
• 22:19 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 22:44 The Last Five®
• Break
• 49:15 Fall TV Update/Show Notes
• 1:02:40 Credits and Outtake

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*** Ebert
*** Berardinelli
** Phillips
C Schwarzbaum
6.2 Metacritic
7.9 IMDB

BURN AFTER READING

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2000

September 6, 2008
Netflix Roku Download
USA
English
75 Minutes
Documentary
Vicky Funari & Julia Query

A bit long, even at a brisk 75 minutes. Story of strip club and their efforts to unionize against the wishes of the pretty-progressive-thinking female management. Only in San Francisco. Basically a labor struggle with boobs as an added attraction.

6.2 Metacritic
6.5 IMDB

LIVE NUDE GIRLS UNITE!

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2001

July 20, 2002

DVD

USA

English/Russian/Spanish

Denzel Washington. Ethan Hawke.

Training Day. Denzel deserved his Oscar win. I’m just as surprised as you are. I had heard that this was a routine police film about an out-of-control cop and a newby. Which it was. But somehow Denzel is such an acting stud that anything that comes out of his mouth has this sort of power that mere mortals can’t possibly match. Hawke is not my favorite guy, but he leaves behind ‘author-smart-guy Hawke’ to play a new guy, eager to make a good impression and provide for his family. The fact that he isn’t acted off the screen is a testament to his skill. Denzel is powerful as a guy in charge of a group of narco cops in L.A. He bends and breaks the rules with impunity. He stares at his young charge and seems to be making up dialogue on the spot. I believed that he was from the streets of L.A. He swaggered like the homies he was arresting. He went from being a serious role model cop, to funny jokester in a single breath.

The film crumbles under a single coincidence that couldn’t possibly happen, which is the only thing keeping this from being something special. We know how its going to end and it ends exactly that way.

Watch this for the performances. Not just of Denzel and Ethan, but of Macy Gray and Dr Dre and Snoop Dog. Great acting, not-so-great story.

Denzel Washington won the Best Actor of 2001 from the Academy Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and was nominated for a SAG Award.

Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor of 2001 by the Academy Awards and SAG.

6.2 A Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins