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|Index||285 reviews in total|
I rarely watch a film twice. I watched this film twice back-to-back. Every character in this film is engaging and well-acted. The plot is simple. A little fellow works in a model train store with his best friend. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that the inclusion of a dwarf in the plot is a gimmick to tug at your emotions. This story could very well have been done without a little person, and would have been just as good. Anyway, the main character inherits a defunct train depot in a small town. The idea of being in a place where there is no one to bother him appeals to the main character, and he leaves the big city. Of course, being a new guy in a small town, everyone notices him and everyone is 'all up in his business'. If you are from a big city, you will identify with his consternation at moving to a place where he could never be anonymous. If you are from a small town, you will immediately identify with the town where people are interested in the new guy, not because he is different, but simply because he is new. The performances in this film are perfect. Station Agent is one of my top ten films all-time.
There's really no point to this film. It is entirely linear. And while there are occasional conflicts and resolutions, they are minor - there is no clear beginning, middle, or end to this movie. I guess one could draw some parallel to riding a train. Each of us may ride from point A to point B, but the train just keeps going and knows only tie after tie and station after station on its journey. Maybe in a few days I'll figure out why I liked this movie so much and gave it an 8. There are no real memorable quotable quotes or incredible scenes. But I would watch it again. I rode the Skunk Train once from Ft. Bragg to Willits and back. And I remember it as a great time. And I'm in no hurry to do it again. But if the opportunity came up, I would do it again.
... either description applies. Long after McCullers checked into the Pearly Gates Gothic Motel her spirit lives on as does her recipe - take one small town/hamlet in the middle of East Jesus and people it with off-the-wall one-offs, preferably a brace of mutes (The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter), dwarfs with a penchant for fist-fights with Amazonian women (The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe), or heroines with a nice line in self-mutilation, cutting off their nipples (Reflections In A Golden Eye) - the only difference here is that the action takes place in New Jersey instead of Mississippi. Let's deal with the flaws in the plot first; the hamlet is called Newfoundland and it seems to have a population of 29 so how can somewhere so small support a library at all, especially one that is not supported by the residents - Fin enters twice and each time he is the only customer apart from the teenage librarian who, improbably, seems to run the place, okay, the first time Olivia comes in but more as a plot point than a punter. Why would a guy park a mobile hot dog/coffee stall in just about the emptiest spot for miles and why, when he finally enters the bar, is it so full when we have not seen so much as a single house or store? Those beefs to one side we are left with a VERY feelgood movie that is well acted and well shot. As usual London gets it well after everyone else - it was playing in Paris last December - but it is worth the wait. As other commenters have remarked this stuff is light years away from the Giglis, Matrixes and Texas Chain Saws of this world and is a breath of fresh air to counter the pollution of those and similar titles. 8/10
The Station Agent is a likable and intriguing story involving three
individuals; a dwarf seeking solitude, a lady artist on the verge, and
a mobile food vendor stuck in adolescence. Slow paced and moments of
silence give the film it's spiritual identification. It seems the
people are in limbo waiting for the right train to come in.
The characters identify with one another outside the boundaries of appearance and more toward the inner being of displacement in a huge civilization. It's this identity that binds us all together when we are faced with a life changing crisis. The Station Agent emits the magic of spirits finding one another during trouble times.
It's a simple film with a delightful heartfelt script and the cast is believable and the chemistry works top notch. The film has touches of humor that break the monotone feel lapsing the viewer back into another emotion with moments of truth. The double run off the road was very funny.
The film seems to want to take our minds off the physical perspective of the characters and look more inward. It works.
*** Victor Nunnally BFA Dramatic Theory AA Performing Arts
I loved this movie. It did not have the buzz of the Oscars but it is a
small film that touches your heart. Why can't Hollywood make movies like
this one (and a few other indies)? It is so refreshing to see a movie
without fights, violence, murder, nudity, etc. I was totally engrossed in
it from start to finish. The 3 main actors did a wonderful job of revealing
the characters as the story unfolded. Fin, a dwarf, is angry with the world
for the way he has been treated (ridiculed). Olivia seems nervous from the
beginning, and we find out soon why. She lost her son and she cannot get
over it. Joe has a sick father at home, so he is doing his father's job.
Their paths cross almost as soon as Fin (Peter Dinklage) moved into the
depot which he inherited from a friend. Fin just wants to be alone but ends
up being friends with the other two. As their friendship grows, Fin becomes
more open. He smiles more and speaks more than just yes/no. After going
through some difficult times the three friends are together again, helping
each other and enjoying each other's company.
The acting is excellent. The screenplay is focused on the 3 main characters. There are a few other characters in the movie. I loved the way Cleo the little black girl makes Fin give a speech to her class. Earlier Fin used to avoid people because they made reference to his dwarfism. This time he is comfortable with who he is, and is not bothered by one kid in Cleo's class who is trying to make fun of him. He talks to the class about his passion and has no trouble saying "I don't know about blimps" when a question is asked. Earlier, he had always rejected help from Olivia and Joe, but later he is able to give and accept help. Olivia goes through her crisis, and comes to a balance. Joe is sort of the glue that keeps the three of them together.
This is a very different film, made with great sensitivity. At no time we pity Fin for being a dwarf. There is plenty of laughter because of the situations, and some tears later on. The movie has a nice mixture of different emotions, just like life.
Definitely worth seeing.
Great reviews and a friend's recommendation prompted me to see Station Agent. Good acting, especially by Patricia Clarkson, made the film watchable. The story, however, was pretty run of the mill. A decent movie to rent if the DVD you're looking for isn't available at Blockbuster.
The truth is that this is a solid effort, but that because of the *relative*
dearth of good movies, TSA - by comparison - provides those who hunger for
good films, indie or not, with ammo.
Here are the truths of TSA as I see them:
1) The strengths of TSA outweigh the weaknesses;
2) The strengths of TSA are: The acting, directing of the actors.
3) The weaknesses are: The screenplay, which falters in the second half by attempting to "make things happen" for the sake of, seemingly, "making things happen."
4) The ability to remain truly independent and make the film - off the beaten path for sure, for better or worse - that Tom McCarthy wanted to make.
There are moments of the first half that sparkle with "the ineffable stuff of life." That "stuff" completely missing from the Hollywood factory.
It's called a heartbeat. Or heart. Or soul. Whatever, it's present in this movie, justifies its presence as a work of art, and makes it all worthwhile.
As the houselights came up after The Station Agent, my companion
whispered "That was sweet." It was a lot of things, to me, sweet
certainly being one of them. I had been in the mood for an
anti-blockbuster, and The Station Agent delivered. This film is what I
cherish most in an Indie film: a low-key, no showbiz attitude that
feels more like a writer's film than an SFX crew's throw-together.
Of course you can mock Indie productions, composing a laundry list of certain recurring angles of approach and motifs. But to me, the more pertinent point should be that you can mock to a far greater degree big budget mainstream movies. Think of how many big movies you have seen in the past year that include 1) spectacular crashes, vehicular mayhem or explosions with people catapulted through the air, 2) a blasting Wagnerian soundtrack: the orchestra as neural sledgehammer, 3) tense scenes stretched, by editing, beyond real time to the point of cartoon absurdity. Nearly any film that anybody talked about in the last 12 months had all these features. Better than the Indie laundry list? I don't think so.
If I were to make my own list of really good Indie personality traits, using the fine The Station Agent as my model, they'd include these: 1) No fealty paid to comic book/O. Henry plot twists; feeling, not gimmicks, 2) a refusal to rely on special effects in place of story or character content, 3) understated soundtrack used for the original purpose of music in movies: to massage the feeling of a scene, NOT to beat you to a bloody submissive pulp with the raw manipulative power of decibels, 4) good character writing, including characters who are not clichés; character growth (this last is wholly foreign to most mainstream films). Indie films are novelistic, not afraid to ramble. Mainstream films -- which become handsomer and more slickly achieved, become more and more like pulpy short stories, with zero elbow room, simplistic plot hooks and low-common denominator payoffs/punchlines. In such an environment, The Station Agent looks pretty damned good.
There's a reason why independent movies stay that way. The epitome of an
independent movie is The Station Agent, a slow, small film with a small
star, Peter Dinklage. It's not easy to be a measly four feet, six inches in
Hollywood (his only other major role has been in Elf), but he is a true star
in The Station Agent, a movie that revolves around him. It's his breakout
role, so expect to see more of him soon.
Fin (Dinklage) works at a train souvenir shop, but when his coworker and friend (Paul Benjamin) dies, he is left a plot of land in rural New Jersey with an abandoned train station on it. While he just wants to be left alone and live his life in solitude, he is interrupted by a nosy hot-dog vendor (Bobby Cannavale), who parks right by his station, and a persistent woman (Patricia Clarkson) who has her own troubles. Slowly they start to bond, as all three of them look to see what they're missing in their life.
As I said earlier, The Station Agent is a very slow film. Much of the film is just Fin walking along railroad tracks, but the way freshman director Tom McCarthy makes it, it's never boring. There isn't really a central plot, which keeps the loose feel to the movie, but it also is a liability. Because of the lack of plot, McCarthy has a freer sense of what to do, and because of this he can't really stick on one thing. A couple subplots, such as Joe's sick father, don't really go anywhere, and about halfway through the movie, the movie takes an unwelcome turn from light drama with comedic undertones to a serious, heavy-handed melodrama. Although The Station Agent would have worked either way, the sudden change didn't add anything to it.
The first part, however, was quite funny, and it's pretty amazing how McCarthy can put a lot of humor about a depressed dwarf and still keep it tasteful. The ending, many have complained about, because it ends so abruptly, but so do many movies, and I didn't find much wrong about the ending. McCarthy really makes us root for the three main characters: they aren't caricatures, and we can relate to them. That's what is the best part about the movie: the characters.
Dinklage has been rightly praised for his acting, but the real winner is, yet again, Clarkson. No matter what movie she's in, she cannot act badly. She portrayed her shattered life well. I can't really say more about The Station Agent, but if you see it, you'll probably like it.
My rating: 7/10
Rated R for language and some drug content.
After viewing The Station Agent I found myself remembering a movie called
Idaho. I rewatched Twin Falls only to discover that the maker of The
owes a lot to Twin Falls Idaho. The director Thomas McCarthy basically
twins with a dwarf.
The Station Agent is a good movie and deserves its praise. Maybe the Farrelly Brothers can make a comedy about small people now that a great one has been made.
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