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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Amazingly effective short film

Author: bladerunner9x from Bemidji, MN
28 August 2002

This short film, Bullet in the Brain, is a great little piece of film that starts with a situation we've seen a thousand times before and ends as a quasi-meditation on life itself. Tom Noonan is great as always (hard to belive this is the same man who was so chilling as Francis Dolarhyde) and the rest of the cast is good also. Some of the shots are overwhelmingly beautiful- one in particular has the camera slowly traveling through the top fringes of a field. Overall, great stuff all around and I would hope a nice future in store for the director.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

As it Should Be

10/10
Author: talkstock2me-1 from Vancouver
11 December 2005

The finest short I've ever seen. Some commentators suggest it might have been lengthened, due to the density of insight it offers. There's irony in that comment and little merit. The acting is all up to Noonan and he carries his thankless character perfectly. I might have preferred that the narrator be less "recognizable", but the gravitas lent is pitch perfect. This is a short for people who read, for those whose "bar" is set high and for those who recognize that living in a culture that celebrates stupidity and banality can forge contrary and bitter defenders of beauty. A beautiful short film. FWIW: I was pleased at the Picasso reference, since I once believed that Picasso was just another art whore with little talent; like, I assume, most people - until the day I saw some drawings he made when he was 12. Picasso was a finer draftsman and a brilliant artist at that age than many artists will ever become in a lifetime. I understood immediately why he had to make the art he became known for.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful – pure and simply enjoyable and moving

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 September 2002

Anders is an over-critical writing teacher who carries is criticism into his own life. When he is involved in a bank robbery his critical remarks lead to his death. In the instant the bullet travels into his brain we are treated to writing par excellence as his life passes before his eyes.

Man some short films can suck. Some really just turn you off with their pretension and their desire to be arty. However some can feel generally fresh and just blow you away with the story, the telling, the acting and the sheer talent of the makers. Bullet in the brain is very much in the latter category.

The opening of the film sets up the character of Anders as an critical unpleasant man who is unwilling to make compromise or be polite to other people. This is enjoyable a sit is well acted and well directed. When the bank robbery happens it is well staged but is only the step to what I think is the best 5 minutes of short I've seen in ages. The murder of Anders sparks a narrator telling us about Anders's life flashing before his eyes.

It's hard to describe but this is excellent. The narration is written in a literary style that Anders would have approved of and is accompanied by perfect shots and images that leave the side issue of the robbery long behind. What Anders does and doesn't remember is wonderful and really tells you a lot about the nature and brevity of life. Plimpton's voice is absolutely perfect for the narration and he makes it work very well. However the direction is what makes his short so arresting. Every shot is captivating – whether it be a washed out silent classroom or a sun-soaked cornfield where you can feel the summer heat from the screen in front of you.

Noonan is excellent in the lead role and makes Anders feel real despite how unpleasant he is. The cast member I was most excited about seeing was Dean Winters – better known as O'Reilly from HBO's Oz. He is so very good in Oz that I was glad to see him in something else. He is good here but only briefly and his bank robber is too close to his O'Reilly for my liking. As I've said the short is sublime in the second half and praise should be given to the casting people for selecting Plimpton for the narration.

Overall it is hard to fault this short and I really want to track down the source material now to get more flesh on these bones. The first half will interest you as you get to know Anders, the second half will blow you away as you learn the power of words and the power of images when everything works just right.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Stunning

10/10
Author: man_dude (badave@hotmail.com) from Reno, NV
29 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie, with all its complexity and subtlety, makes for one of the most thought-provoking short films I have ever seen. The topics it addresses are ugly, cynical, and at times, even macabre, but the film remains beautiful in its language, artful with its camera angles, and gorgeous in its style, skillfully recreating the short story of the same name written by a master of short stories, Tobias Wolff.

Not wishing to spoil anything of the movie, I won't go into any details, other than to say that this movie is magnificent in and of itself. It takes pride in what it does, and does it well. It shows the most important memories of life, all of which can be topped by the single most elusive feeling: unexpected bliss. This movie, of its own volition, has created in me the same feelings the main character (Tom Noonan) felt when words transformed his very existence, and that is one impressive feat.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Maybe a little wordy

8/10
Author: heywood100 from Birmingham, England
19 May 2003

Although Bullet In The Brain is, without question, superior amongst short films, it largely seems more like a short piece of writing than a film. And it is a little hard to feel too sorry for the teacher when his smart ass remarks get him shot. But after the bullet enters his brain we begin to understand a little bit about why he became so jaded with life in the first place. There is an awful amount of detail packed into this reasonably short film and this is what makes me feel that it should have been extended a little bit - it seems like there's almost too much to take in at once as the details come flying at you so fast. A slightly more relaxed pace and a less po-faced narrator in the final section would have benefitted this film a little bit. Despite these complaints, there is no denying that Bullet In The Brain is a quite stupendous work compared to many short, and even full length films. The makers should be applauded for trying to make such a basically emotional and literate film in the current climate of quick jokes and Hollywood action.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"Tolle lege"...

10/10
Author: Reynolds Willoughby from Los Angeles
20 September 2002

...means "take up and read", which is precisely what I felt like doing after having seen this marvelous film.

Von Ancken stimulates and inspires with this breathtaking and superbly executed adaptation of Tobias Wolff's 1995 New Yorker article of the same name. The incredible performance by Tom Noonan is brilliant and provocative and the editing, sound design, cinematography and directing are truly inspired. The nuanced changes and embellishments on the original story are subtle, clever, and make the film cinematically more dynamic. It's lyrical pacing is mesmerizing and begs you to watch it again.

Watch out for this young director...he's going places.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Strangely compelling

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
8 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very, very odd film...one that is so odd it's best you just see it for yourself. The film begins with a jaded professor haranguing his class because the students have the audacity to not be as incredibly brilliant as he is! You can tell very quickly that this man is a total cynic--finding the value in practically nothing but sticking to his own inner sense of self-importance. Additionally, he seems tired and bored with the monotony of life.

Later in the film, he walks into a bank robbery and manages to annoy the robbers so much that one of them shoots him in the head. Oddly, this is only half-way through the film and what followed was a very bizarre narration of the final seconds of his life. This is when the film becomes exciting because the style of the narration is just like one of this literature professor's novels--one that is intelligently written and says things the way we wish we could all say them.

See this weird film--it's amazingly compelling and not like anything I've ever seen before.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Robert McKee Meets Joe Pesci

7/10
Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
17 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After contributing an opinion on LAST DAY DREAM I noticed the other contributer on the page recommended this film as being along the same lines though done much more better and after seeing it I can see where he Mo is coming from . This is a very engaging short film on the finality and fragility of life , here today gone tomorrow school of thought If there's a problem it's that I perhaps found the story leading up to it to be better than the rather prosaic second half where Anders experiences his death dream . In fact the first half with Anders teaching in class is the highlight as he chastises and criticise his writing class . Quite right too . It's a bit like this website where any illiterate degenerate with the intellectual capacity of a rabid stoat thinks they're Tolstoy and bombard the site with meagre scribblings that are no more than a plot summary and cast list devoid of any analytical thought

In fact Anders is more decent and principled than he is given credit for . In some ways he resembles Robert McKee the abrasive guru famous for his screen writing classes ( Still writing Mrs Columbo Bob ? ) but he wants to see his students succeed or fail which I guess makes him better than just someone who goes to work simply for the money . As it turns out he bumps in to a bank robbery by Ryan O Riley . Well actually the bank robber is unnamed but played by Dean Winters of OZ fame and if you think Winters might be too close to his character in the HBO series then imagine if he was played Joe Pesci . I was surprised Anders didn't point this out but if you're trying to think up insults for wannabe writers wasting your time then maybe you don't get much time to watch films . One thing I have noticed about the human race after finding the IMDb is far too many people watch films but don't have the intellectual capacity to offer any insight to them

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Well conceived short. Great marriage of cinematography and the craft of writing.

9/10
Author: Havan_IronOak from NYC/FL
1 September 2002

This short deals with a severely critical writing teacher whose undiplomatic criticism extends into his everyday life. When he learns why that's not a good idea, we learn a bit about the beautiful craft of writing that he's been lecturing on.

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