Short, weird film about a group of New Yorkers.

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Short, weird film about a group of New Yorkers.

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October 1987 (USA)  »

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Strange Yet Compelling Short Film
2 November 2001 | by See all my reviews

Yes, Arena Brains. A strange name for a strange short film. I would've liked this to be feature length. It is quite an impressive cast for such a small movie. Eric Bogosian, Ray Liotta, Sean Young. I rented it just cos Bogosian was in it though.

REM's Mikey Stipe has a small part in it as a guy who literally just stands around looking spaced out, goes and buys a sandwich, and then heads home and eats it. The short convo he has with the sandwich maker seemed rather mundane but interesting. Interesting cos I guess it was so mundane. Sandwich maker to Michael Stipe: "How 'bout a nice piece of cheesecake?" The sandwich dude asks Mikey this while he's making his sandwich. Like he's trying to sell him a sandwich and the cheesecake. Like I said a mundane bit of film dialogue. It makes ya kinda wonder why the film crew went to all the trouble of making and shooting this scene just for that little bit of meaningless banter between Mike's character and the sandwich dude. This film was made back when Michael Stipe was still handsome. Before he started not shaving his face and shaving his head and looking all ugly with mascara around his eyes.

Eric Bogosian plays a typical ranting and raving performance artist character in this. The kinda guy he plays in his one man solo shows. The basic jist of the character is that life sucks, the usual nihilistic spiel that filmmakers put in modern cinema to make themselves look hip. It's hip to be negative in indie films. Though the Bogosian character does get a mean little bit of violence inflicted on him so maybe the filmmakers aren't as gloom and doomy as you might think.

I find it amazing that Robert Longo directed this. After the mess that he made out of the film Johnny Mnemonic AKA Johnny Moronic I thought he didn't have a talented bone in his body. This film proves that wrong. It also proves that Sean Young will take parts in films other than the straight to video dreck she's been in lately.

Ray Liotta has a nice bit part as an artiste who finds art in the weirdest places, like how he manages to find something artistic in a guy who has an attack in his too cool for words New York apartment. The New York in this film is pre-Giuliani back when New York had a gritty, seamy side. Before Giuliani ruined it by drastically lowering the crime rate, the murder rate, and generally cleaning it up and making it better damn him.

Only folks who dig offbeat indie films will like this. But there is way too much talent in this flick for it to be so short. They shoulda added another 80 minutes of footage and had something really special. Over and out, once again...






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