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Colin Farrell is a self-professed star publicist with an attitude to
boot. Watch 81 minutes of gut-wrenching nerve-wracking dialog reduce a
pretentious "kiss my ass" punk into an enervated and regretful
reprobate. Farrell is simply awesome in portraying the gravity of the
situation. "The Caller"'s voice is absolutely worth a mention. Calm,
creepy and authoritative! Something different and the movie would have
fallen flat on its 'flab less' anterior. Sutherland plays 'The Caller',
manning a high profile sniper rifle, while he thrusts honesty upon Stu
Shephard (Colin Farrell). Frankly, I couldn't keep my eyes off the
screen for a second.
Ebert himself was marvelled by the creativity of "Phone Booth". Why! It wasn't without good reason! A gaudy character stuck inside a phone booth in a busy locale, some good camera work, bunch of apartment windows, a psycho sniper and 10 days of excellent filming supported by a 'worth a mention' cast easily will manage to get into a good bundle of "top ten" lists. Fabulous entertainment and a good display of creativity. Graham Bell is still aiding marvels, I guess!
Anyone who doubts that people are as easily programmable as Pavlov's pets
need look no further Graham Bell's little box. While most of us generally
don't start salivating at the sound of a ringing phone, few people (unless
they work for a software help desk) can resist the urge to answer one.
that the darkest force that dials your number is a telemarketer.
For Stu Shephard, sincerity is little more than a fuzzy concept. A shady publicist, his life consists of spinning interconnecting webs of lies to further the careers of clients and raise his stature. In his spare time he enjoys abusing his assistant, and ignoring his wife. Stu is, is also determined to give an impressionable young actress a test run on the casting couch. When he enters the one functioning pay phone in a ten-block radius in the hopes of setting up a liaison, the phone rings. It turns out to be Stu's conscience on the line. With a sniper rifle aimed at Stu's head.
When you take into account that `Phone Booth' was filmed in just ten days, on a limited budget with a dearth of special effects, one principle actor and a single venue you could be forgiven for questioning the potential success of this film. The original November 2001 release date might give one pause - films that sit on the shelf usually do so for a reason - read `straight to video'. In this instance the studio wanted to wait until Farrell was more familiar to moviegoers. He achieved this with a little film called `Minority Report' (the name of his co-star escapes me at the moment...). `Phone Booth's' new release date had to be pushed back once again after the sniping episodes in Washington. Some things are worth the wait.
While he stole the spotlight as the maniacal hit man in `Daredevil', Farrell is faced with a different animal in `Phone Booth', an 80-minute soliloquy which lives or dies on his performance (several A-list stars walked away from the project for this very reason). Reminiscent of his much-lauded turn in `Tigerland', Farrell confirms that he isn't a one trick pony, proffering a wide-ranging display of emotions, from cocky to cathartic without straying into soap opera or comic territory. He delivers his lines with a solid fluidity rare among his peers, no simple feat when one takes into account that he's suppressing a harsh brogue. Farrell also demonstrates a presence, beyond mere charisma - his good looks can only inspire interest for so long - that draw the viewer into the story.
While the supporting cast - Katie Holmes as the naive ingenue and Forrest Whitaker as the good cop - fulfill their purpose, it is Keifer Sutherland who takes up what little slack there is. While the audience doesn't get to see Sutherland, he is amply menacing as the cold, otherworldly voice on the other end of the phone. The audience is never privy to who he is (`Just call me Bob') or what his motives are, but it is inconsequential - he sees all, knows all, and is clearly in charge. Unlike S&M, there are no safe words. And for a control freak like Stu nothing could be more terrifying.
Although tied to a static location, deft camera work provides action, perspective and mood with such techniques as quick pans, compressed zooming, and picture in picture sequences, while careful not to cross the gimmickry line . Enhanced sound editing bolsters the visuals: ringing phones are jarring, Bob's quietly booming voice is unsettling, and the sound of a round being chambered is deafening.
`Phone Booth' could easily have been a quirky novelty flick that played well amongst the art house set. Thanks to Farrell's performance it makes for good mainstream cinema (normally an oxymoron) and may actually make a few top ten lists.
I saw the premiere of "Phone Booth" at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, and I LOVED IT! It's unusual for a feature like this to even show at the TIFF, which should say something about it. I know it sounds like a hard sell. The whole thing takes place outside a phone booth in Manhattan, and it was shot in 10 days for less than 2 million dollars. But this movie is electric. It BLEW ME AWAY! Stuart `Stu' Shepard (Colin Farrell), a sleazy publicist, uses this phone booth to call his girlfriend, because his wife checks his cell phone bills. The phone rings, and when he picks it up, all hell breaks loose. The voice on the other end (Kiefer Sutherland is just terrifying) warns him that if he leaves the booth he will be killed. At first Stu doesn't believe him, but we find out pretty quick that his life is in real danger, and the stranger on the other end of the line knows EVERYTHING about Stu and his life. Then the police show up, (Forest Whitaker is wonderful as always as the cop in charge) and order Stu out of the booth. I spent the next hour on the edge of my seat. I don't want to give anything more away, but it is one of the most suspenseful movies I've seen in a very long time! You should go see this movie! I don't think it's going to get a very big release, even though it's directed by Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo's Fire, Flatliners, Batman and Robin, 8mm, Tigerland). Schumacher was at the screening, and he talked about how a number of different actors (including Mel Gibson) and directors had been attached to the script, and it had taken years to get it to the screen. He was able to do it with Colin Farrell after 20th Century Fox exec's saw him in `Tigerland' and decided to take a chance. But he's still not considered a `big' star. And Kiefer only came to the project at the end (though Schumacher said he was the only guy for the role, and I agree), and you don't see him much. So the movie may not get much of a push when it comes out. Don't let that dissuade you. If you like a good ride, you should go see this movie.
This is the kind of movie that is rare these days. It didn't cost an
arm and a leg to make, it stars some good actors and the story line was
The Hitchcock influence is obvious and the pacing of the film was just right. This is the best work of director Schumacher. The lead could have been played by any yuppie looking actor but Colin Farrell does a good job anyway in a role that puts you in his character's place.
It's hard to make a movie work when it takes place in a confined space with few characters, but when those movies succeed, it shows. And that's how it is with "Phone Booth."
I only looked at this because a friend loaned it to me so, at zero
cost, what could I lose? Well, it was a lot better than I anticipated.
Oddly, even though it's only 80 minutes long, I think this could have
been better with about 10 minutes chopped off. It starts to repeat
itself too much near the end. You have to remember, almost the whole
film takes place within a phone booth!
Colin Farrell does a super job playing a sleazy guy held captive in the phone booth by a threatening sniper-caller. The story, although simple, holds your attention because there is great suspense, innovative camera-work, an involving story that hooks you in pretty fast and some great sound. I hope you have a surround sound system because the caller's (Keifer Sutherland) voice on the other end of the line is something to hear!
There is a big moral message in this film, too, about doing the right thing and paying for your sins, which Farrell sure did. It was really refreshing to hear that message, effectively told. Maybe some of us need a sniper to get the message across, but I hope not!
Are there holes in this story? Sure, but it's still good and has a cool ending. The only warning I would give readers here is the language: this is a very profane film with Farrell going overboard on the f-word. If that offends you, then stay out of this phone booth; otherwise, it's pretty entertaining
Have you ever seen a movie that you would actually pay money to watch more than once? What if I told you that this film had a setting of only one main location, two main actors and three supporting cast members? While these elements don't make up what a classic movie sounds like on paper, add director Joel Schumacher (Bad Company, 8mm) into the mix, along with screenwriter Larry Cohen, who had this story handed down to him by Alfred Hitchcock himself about 30 years ago, and you have the perfect blend of blackmail, violence and extortion: Phone Booth. The story begins by showing a glimpse into the life of Stu Shepard (Daredevil's Colin Farrell). Stu is a New York hustler that people love to hate. He is egotistical, two-faced to everyone he knows and does what he can for personal gratification. He even fantasizes about cheating on his wife Kelly (Pitch Black's Radha Mitchell) and the object of that desire is Pamela McFadden (Dawson Creek's Katie Holmes). Pam is a young actress trying to get her first break, while Stu has been grooming her for the big time. To avoid having his calls to Pam appear on his cellular phone bill, Stu calls her from the lone phone booth left in the heart of NYC. However, things would be different on this day. Upon hanging up, he receives a call that would turn his whole world upside down. The caller (24's Kiefer Sutherland) is a sniper, who has been targeting high-profile underhanded suits, just like Stu. He has a few simple rules so that Stu does not meet the same fate that two others had before him: don't leave the booth, don't tell anyone who he's talking to, and most importantly, don't hang up. To prove his seriousness, the caller shoots and kills a pimp who tries to physically remove Stu from the booth for taking too much time with his call. This, as expected, does not help matters, and the fallen pimp's hookers now believe it was indeed Stu who committed the murder. Soon, the NYPD and numerous media outlets are covering this serious situation. Things become increasingly difficult for Stu Shepard as Kelly and Pam both show up. In the meantime, the caller continues to play various mind games, while the sympathetic NYPD Captain Ramey (Twilight Zone's Forest Whitaker) tries to solve the issue. During all of this, Stu tries to maintain his sanity and not risk any more lives. His lies no longer matter. As a result, he must now search his soul, discover himself and attempt to outsmart the caller, taking the game to a whole new level. The cinematography is outstanding. Schumacher uses the right angle for every shot, and manages to keep everyone's attention with quick pans and abrupt cuts. In the end, the 80-minute movie seems longer but not because it is boring. The biggest payoff comes with the twist ending that changes the film's outcome within sixty seconds. There was not one bad performance in Phone Booth. Farrell's ability to convert his Irish brogue to a Brooklyn drawl makes his performance as Bullseye in Daredevil look like a child's school play when compared to the Broadway-level of acting he manages here. While Mitchell and Holmes did not have lengthy parts, their roles added just enough to the story and they managed to perform up to the standards of their characters. Forest Whitaker was a surprisingly great addition to the cast and his role as a sympathetic cop is one that's not often seen, and should thus be welcomed. However, all of these actors are outshined by Kiefer Sutherland, who ends up being extremely creepy and one of the best antagonists in recent movie history by just using his voice. Will this win Best Picture at next year's Academy Awards? It probably won't. However, with a great story, top-notch directing and a cast with great chemistry, what more could you ask for? Out of a possible five stars, I give this the limit of five with desires to go even higher. While I would go see it again and again, not everyone has the same tastes. However, I would put down the $8 for a ticket to see the flick at least once. If nothing else, it will make you stop and think: the next time you enter a phone booth, just who will be watching?
Stu Shepherd is in public relations and uses lies and deceit everyday in his
job to get things moving. When calling a client from a phone booth in the
hope of getting her to a hotel. When he hangs up the phone rings and he
answers to what he assumes is a prank call. However the caller reveals more
and more about Stu exposing his lies. When Stu tries to leave the caller
reveals that he has Stu pinned down with a sniper rifle and the death of a
man by the booth proves it. The police arrive and surround Stu while the
caller continues his game.
Everyone knows that it had a small budget, a shooting window of just over a week and that it was made years ago and shelved as Farrell's star power increased and real life terrorist attacks and snipers came and went in the media and the mind of the American public. So I'll not dwell on that and instead talk of the film! The pitch was enough to get me interested `man is held in phone box by sniper' sounds great! I really wanted to see this film but was put off by the trailer, but not of the films I saw wrong in the trailer were to the detriment of the film as over 80-odd minutes it really runs like a race horse.
Starting with humour and a free-flowing pace it turns sinister early on but keeps the pace. In terms of plot it has many good twists and turns that will keep you interested and on the edge of your seat. The only issue for me was accepting why the sniper was doing it and how he was able to get access to the equipment he would have needed as well as the information not to mention the WILL to do it! Also little things bugged me, but the film carries itself over these obstacles well enough and reservations are soon forgotten. It sounds simple but the simple ideas work best and, although low on action (sorry, teen boys!) it is driven by dialogue and simply not knowing what will come next.
The direction helps the film by constantly moving and using split screens etc to give the impression that a lot is going on at once again making the film feel like it has a fast pace. It feels a little gimmicky (especially now that we've had 2 series of 24 doing the same thing) but it works regardless. I wrote in an old review (8mm I think) that I would never pay to see a Joel Schumacher film ever again, and I DIDN'T pay to see Phone Booth! However I was surprised because he didn't ruin it! He did a good job yes, you heard me! His usual excesses seem to have been controlled by a good producer and editing team and the film works much to my surprise and relief!
Farrell may not be a bona-fide Hollywood star yet but he takes the task of being onscreen for almost the whole film and runs with it. He makes a comically cruel character someone that reveals himself to be a loser but never loses the audience and that takes talent. Sutherland's voice on the trailer didn't work for me (too normal and slow) but in the film he is excellent, like the director said, no-one else could have done the role, he is right for it. Whitaker makes up the third lead and he holds his corner well.
It may not be without the odd flaw but this film manages to be simple, gripping and very effective. Well worth a look.
Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) uses a pay phone to call his mistress (Katie
Holmes) and after he hung up the phone rings. He picks it up, of course, and
learns that there is a sniper on the other side of the line. When he hangs
up the sniper will shoot him, so he is told. Before he entered the booth we
saw Stu talking on his cell phone as a PR-man, constantly lying to people.
The sniper has observed Stu and thinks he deserves to die.
When the sniper demonstrates he is real by shooting a pimp near the booth the police arrives and thinks Stu is the shooter. Capt. Ramey (Forest Whitaker) slowly understands things are not as they seem.
Colin Farrell who is in almost every scene is great. First he looks so confident and slowly he becomes more and more desperate. The voice of the sniper (Kiefer Sutherland) is also perfect for the movie. It sounds calm but creepy, like a dangerous man who knows what he is doing.
The movie is not very long and here that is a very good thing. Scenes are not dragged to make the movie as long as most movies and therefor it doesn't get boring. It kept me on the edge of my seat. A very good thriller.
Director Joel Schumacher preserves his reputation with a script by Larry Cohen about personal morals and hopefully the truth providing some kind of redemption. This is a white knuckle nerve wrecker about a self-serving publicist(Colin Farrell)making the mistake of his life by answering a public telephone. On the other end of the phone is a self empowered mad man(Kiefer Sutherland) inflicting demands on the fast talking, fast thinking publicity dealer who just happened to be walking by the phone booth he passes every day. The mystery voice on the phone demands the publicist to stay in the phone booth until he tells his wife(Radha Mitchell)and the TV watching public of his cheating, lying and making use of others. Of course behind the demanding voice is a sharpshooter that is not afraid to pull the trigger. The senior officer on the scene(Forest Whitaker)tries to make sense of the situation while fighting back thoughts of his own past personal problems. At least 90% of this thriller is made up of witty, threatening and revealing banter between Farrell and Sutherland. And talk about a clever twist to end this flick. Also of note in the cast are: Katie Holmes, Richard T. Jones and Paula Jai Parker. Think twice about answering that ringing phone.
At first I thought the film was going to be just a normal thriller but it turned out to be a thousand times better than I expected. The film is truly original and was so dark & sinister that gives the tensive mood also it is emotionally & psychologically thrilling, the whole movie is charged with pulse pounding suspense and seems like it's really happening. It's amazing that how they managed to make an 80 minute movie with just a guy in a phone booth but the full credit goes to Colin Farrell and Larry Cohen the writer not Joel Schumacher because he is a crappy director. Joel Schumacher's films are rubbish especially The Number 23, Phone Booth was shot in 10 days with a budget of $10 million so it wasn't a hard job to make it, that's why Joel doesn't get any credit but the cast & crew did a fantastic job. I also really liked the raspberry coloured shirt Colin was wearing and it was an excellent choice of clothing because the viewers are going to watch him throughout the whole film. When I first saw the movie I fell in love with it and I bought it on DVD the next day and I've seen it about 20 times and I'm still not fed up with it. Phone Booth is and always will be Colin Farrell's best film! Overall it is simply one of my favourite films and I even argued over my friend because he didn't like it.
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