|Index||6 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I rented this DVD because I was very interested to see how the 3 lead
actors played off each other, particularly in light their being,
ostensibly at least, such different character types. I'd seen Mike
McGlone in Brothers McMullen and She's the One, and then later in the
excellent Dinner Rush with Danny Aiello. And James Urbaniak plays the
uniquely idiosyncratic lead role amazingly in the seminal independent
film Henry Fool, directed by the great Hal Hartley. Finally the least
"indie" of the 3, Tony Hale, plays one of the more neurotic characters
on one of my favorite (soon to be a "brilliant but canceled") shows
Arrested Development and turns in the most realized and comically
sympathetic performance in the film.
Although funny and compelling in places, it seemed inconsistent and admittedly I found I was a bit unsure about Fortunes on the initial viewing, but it definitely charmed me into taking another look. And I discovered that what at first felt perhaps more like pacing issues and the absence of the sharp "edginess" that characterizes a lot of independent film was actually much more of a studied, subtle exploration of early life crisis and uncertainty. The film is a sort of dark satire but with a lighter touch, resisting the indie urge at ostentation and grittiness in favor of a more supple approach.
The choice of having such different actors play took on significance and purpose in this context. They develop early on in the film as 3 distinct archetypes a cocksure alpha male investment banker, a workaholic and somewhat absentee father/husband, and a brooding, contemplative artist/writer. Their visit to a fortune teller is the catalyst that sets off their worrying about things all too familiar in an age of self doubt and mass identity crisis. Actually just 2 of them, the father/husband and the writer, get their fortunes read by the enigmatic though very un-stereotypical fortune teller, but the shift in their moods is palpable enough to affect the 3rd character in a way that creates a vicarious, osmotic experience for him as well. The film examines all their collective angst not so much with broad comedy as with a dry, wry humor, and does so patiently, deliberately. Rather than belly laughs, the effect is persistent, and consistent, amusement; the film engrosses not with shock or controversy, but with a sure-handed, steady focus and direction.
And beyond the perhaps somewhat deceptively simple premise of a visit with someone who may have access to a deeper, more mysterious realm triggering the latent doubts and insecurities already present in characters undergoing pre-mid life crises, the film, and not too heavy handedly (in fact maybe too subtle for it's own good) poses one of life's more essential questions are the events in our lives predetermined, does fate exist, - or is life actually something, as we'd generally like to believe, something we shape ourselves as we struggle through existence? Smartly, this film doesn't presume to answer the question or even favor one perspective over the other and chooses instead to observe it's "unanswerableness".
Fortunes ultimately came across to me as a kind of contemporary fable satirizing the same limitations of human consciousness that make us consider that question in the first place. It's more mainstream in some ways but it's an interesting and indie-minded study of character and theme that would have actually benefited, in my humble opinion, from more mood saturation and plumbing the humor of the futility of human inadequacy more in that vein. But the film absolutely grew on me as a very worthy experience more in the spirit of quiet, but playful resolve to convey theme rather than more desperately, more energetically doing so. A tall order given the average attention span. The acting is really good (all 3 of the leads as well as a few of the supporting cast notably the woman who plays the wife, Diana Henry) have terrific comedic and dramatic timing) subtle like the overall film and it's definitely shot very well it's great to look at. And the direction of the film brings all the elements together creatively and imaginatively, but again, with a mature sense of restraint. Getting past the initial sense of deliberateness in the film was a bit like the characters themselves getting past (ie - forced by their uneasiness to get past) their initial, natural cynicism about what a fortune teller has to say in the first place.
This movie struck me because of the cast -- particularly Tony Hale ("Arrested Development") and James Urbaniak (who I saw last year in a terrific one-man play in NYC) -- so I rented it and really found myself liking this movie a lot. While it was very funny (warning: it's not over-the-top humor) it also hit on some ideas and thoughts that I think everyone deals with at some point. Though it's clearly a smaller movie, it is very well done and the acting is terrific -- particularly the leads - Hale, Urbaniak, Mike Mcglone and Diana Henry who plays Hale's wife. The music (by Tobin Sprout of the great band Guided by Voices) is really good too. It doesn't seem like enough people have seen this movie and that's kind of a shame because this is one very solid indie sleeper. There are also some pretty interesting "deleted scenes." Check this one out!
Over the course of a weekend, I started reading Maurice Blanchot's The Space of Literature, had a bad case of flu and writer's block, and then watched this movie. Three states of being, three characters, a few fortune cookies... FORTUNES, the movie, ostensibly offered a great escape: a light/dark comedy, full of boys, beer, a dwarf. Just what I needed to shake French postwar criticism, a stalled novel and other pressing issues into oblivion. Instead, my preoccupations immediately took shape around the characters in the movie biological and existential angst (Phil), the practical and spiritual perils of being an artist (Lewis) and the empty drive for money and acceptance (James). It was only after the movie was over that James' role as the real artist in the picturefilmmaker himselfbecame clear to me. The clarity came from re-reading Blanchot's concept, "Noli me leg ere: do not read me." Blanchot says, "No one who has written the work (made the film) can linger close to it. For the work is the very decision which dismisses him, cuts him off, makes of him a survivor without work. He becomes the inert idler upon whom art does not depend." This is James at the end of the film the only guy of the three who didn't get to sit down in the same space with inspiration (the fortune teller), who, in the end, beats the pavement, effectively homeless (gel-less), glimpsing/misrecognizing inspiration in diner windows wandering outside the editing booth after the film has been shot, after the work has been written, cut off, a survivor. Bravo FORTUNES!
Three 30-something buddies trying to make it in the big city decide on
a whim to visit a gypsy fortune-teller; how each man reacts to hearing
his "fate" is the plot of this charming dark comedy. From the moment
they exit the gypsy's lair, things spin out of control for the trio,
especially for a yuppie dad (Arrested Development's Tony Hale in a
great role) as he becomes obsessed with the security of his young son.
I don't recall laughing out loud at so many lines in a movie in a long time. The writing is excellent, the actors -- even the minor ones -- do justice to the script, nicely filling out archetypes -- and the film asks some profound questions while managing to entertain. And while the movie boasts its share of stock indie-film characters -- a street tough who happens to be a little person, memorably played by Peter Dinklage ("The Station Agent") and a mentally challenged hillbilly (Shannon Parr) with incestuous leanings -- these touches are far from self- conscious. The film reflects a mainstream sensibility and asks universal questions. See it!
I've got to say that I haven't been so sucked in to a film in a long
time. Nice work! Definitely worth checking out.
Man - this whole "10 lines minimum deal" stinks. What can I say, I am terse - just like your mom.
Mike McGlone (Brothers McMullen and She's the One, The Bone Collector, Dinner Rush) James Urbaniak (Henry Fool, American Splendor) , Tony Hale (of Fox's new sitcom "Arrested Development") star in this tale of predetermined fate and the power of suggestion. Walking home from a local pub, the three friends decide, on a semi-drunken whim, to visit a fortune teller. Their readings, we soon discover, have managed to touch nerves deep in their psyches and, despite their natural cynicism, at least two of the men find their lives rather instantly and significantly altered by the
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The funniest thing about Fortunes is that one of the main characters,
Lewis (Urbaniak) has writer's block and apparently so did the
screenplay writer for the film. This is sad, as well, as I guess by
large, this is supposed to be a comedy, or dramedy, but that's the
funniest thing I can remember from watching this.
Three friends go out and drink one night. On the way home, two decide to get their fortunes told by a "gypsy," as they call her. Those two lives fall apart while the third friend stands by. Then, nothing happens.
I hope I didn't spoil the movie there, but really, this extremely low-budget, bad quality movie had some kind of idea when it started but quickly snowballed into the depths of hell. Yeah, I'm being harsh. Honestly, it wasn't that bad, it was just blah.
The aforementioned writer was annoying to watch, though he delivered maybe one or two of the only two funny lines. The clichéd "ladies man," the only one that didn't get his fortune told was just annoying. The only bright spot, was the remaining friend, the married dad whose fortune was told that something big was to happen to his son and he needed to be prepared. He was funny, genuine and clearly the best actor in the movie. Unfortunately, that's not saying much.
Perhaps I'm being too cruel. Heck, they got the ambition to make a movie, went and got funding and accomplished something. Unfortunately, however, I can't at all recommend the film on the basis, there's hundreds of thousands of other independent movies that have hundreds of thousands better ideas and executions. This one was literally 10 minutes of an idea stretched another 81 boring minutes.
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