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|Index||52 reviews in total|
Had the pleasure of seeing this at Toronto and Sundance. I'm a festival rat and do not usually comment on movies. But this film struck me in different ways on both viewings. The first time I was consumed in all of the performances, which are spectacular. The second time I was wrapped up in all of the symbolism. The reflection shots, the little fake houses, the spiritual references, the overall tone of the movie that was set by the director and his brother. Is this a perfect movie? It's as perfect a movie as you will find on the premiere festival circuit. And when I found out it was filmed on a tiny budget, I was even more impressed. It turns out to be a funny and moving story that makes you laugh a lot. The director is funny, the actors are all funny and the music is amazing. Every scene that had a song in it was completely amazing. Martin Scorsese is the producer of the film and the director is clearly a big fan. There's violence, emotion and a lot of humor. It's not about the mafia but it has a Sopranos feel to it. I can't put my finger on it, but it's there. To sum it up, it has some very heavy scenes but those scenes are peppered with hilarious moments. So it's never too dark or too heavy. It plays like a film from the 1960's or 70's. Heck of a job. I want to see more from this filmmaker.
This is an extremely high caliber movie whose only flaw is improperly dated and unhistorical references to the Falkland War. The performances are superb by each and every cast member and by the ensemble as a whole. It is astonishing that such a film could be made in less than a month and for $ 1 1/2 million dollars. That being said, the quick production time and low budget should not keep anyone from seeing this very important film. It is not just about the 70's but about basic human relationships and characters and truths. The director and cast should all be proud of this fine accomplishment. I urge everyone who loves movies to see this one.
I can't wait for my next three-Martini film! If Lymelife can be done in
less than a month, let's have at least two more before year's endthe
last positioned for awards season. Yes, I worry this remarkable film
will be unheralded and forgotten in eight months. I can visualize every
member of this excellent cast reading the script and beginning to
drool. All this tight, little character-driven story needed was a cast
that knew whereof it spoke and a director who could give that cast's
instincts and improvisational abilities free rein. Obviously, the
Martini brothers with a cathartic, autobiographical exercise in
familial dysfunction said, "Hey, the Culkins will know where we're
coming from!" And do they ever! The scenes between the brothers are
heartbreaking in their awareness of fraternal love and filial
The sexual initiation scenes are tender, funny and soooo real. The floundering, faulty adults, right on the nose! This is Timothy Hutton's best work since Ordinary People.
The 1979 setting is subtly established by the scrupulously selected music and the vehicles of the time. The only effort to tie in current events in this post-Viet Nam war-weary era is an almost subliminal reference to the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. And this is all so right, because the characters and relationships, which is what we're here for, are timeless.
The symbolismright up to the real estate baron bearing the cross of a For Sale signhits just the right note. if you have a chance to see this film, go.
I attended the World Premiere of "Lymelife" at the 2008 Toronto
International Film Festival. This touching but occasionally disturbing
coming-of-age story was, literally, a labor of brotherly love. Director
Derick Martini and his brother Steven not only wrote the screenplay
together but they also co-edited it. Adding to those responsibilities,
Steven composed the music and was one of the producers.
Based on events in their own lives, the brothers Martini have crafted a story of love and denial, mystery and tragedy.
The film focuses on two families, the Bartletts and the Braggs. The adults here -- Alec Baldwin and Jill Hennessy as Micky and Brenda Bartlett, Timothy Hutton and Cynthia Nixon as Charlie and Melissa Bragg -- are woefully flawed and ill-equipped role models for their children -- Rory and Kieran Culkin as Scott and Jimmy Bartlett, Emma Roberts as Adrianna Bragg. When Scott and Adrianna begin to discover the joys of young love, the road down which they travel is as full of promise as the Long Island Rail Road tracks that carry the ever-present trains past their houses.
"Lymelife" has the classic, bona fide look and feel of a true American indie. The 70s soundtrack is a real crowd pleaser. Long Island's bucolic setting betrays the tension and deception that lies just beneath the surface of these dysfunctional families.
Photography is topnotch, and cinematographer Frank Godwin fills the film with long takes and tracking shots (Gus Van Sant fans will be pleased) which help build tension and allow the audience to stay in tune with the film's ebbs and flows. Many scenes without dialogue are among the most powerful as Martini allows Rory's face and eyes to say more than any script could (think "Mean Creek").
The entire ensemble cast turn in standout performances. Timothy Hutton and Cynthia Nixon are particularly impressive. But, most of all, Rory Culkin carries this film. His relationship with his brother offscreen translates onto the screen so well that it's hard to tell where the acting ends and the Culkins begin. In fact, Martini said he often left the camera rolling and didn't yell "cut," in order to capture their playfulness. If the interaction between the brothers felt authentic, it may be because much of what is seen on screen was improvised. That's why it seemed so real and painful, because it was.
Despite some dark themes, "Lymelife" has quite a bit of humor in it. Imagine a slightly lighter "American Beauty" or "Snow Angels." In fact, Culkin's relationship with Emma Roberts is, along with that of Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby in "Snow Angels," one of the the best depictions of first love and awkward sexual encounters I've ever seen.
Ironically, Martini's style is also quite similar to that of David Gordon Green, who directed "Snow Angels." He allows much of the action to come from the actors themselves as opposed to his own direction.
Despite the film's many twists and turns, "Lymelife" is ultimately a story of the wonders of discovery. More than anything, what we discover are the possibilities presented by youth.
The Toronto experience is unlike any other. First, Martini introduced the film. In fact, they delayed the screening as long as they could and he tried to vamp onstage for awhile since Kieran and Rory were held up in traffic. He eventually decided to roll the film, and just as he was about to turn over the mike and walk offstage "his boys" walked in. He didn't want to start it without them. So right from the start there was a bond between the filmmaker, cast, and audience. It was one of the festival's small venues so it was packed.
The exciting Q&A after the screening was truly a family affair with both the brothers Martini and Culkin in attendance. Very few people left as the credits rolled since the film leaves many points open to interpretation. Martini was exceptional. It was one of the best Q&As I've attended (and that numbers in the hundreds). He was upbeat, friendly, and willing to discuss a lot of the "behind the scenes" aspects. Many filmmakers are a bit shy onstage and reluctant to open up. He was not.
I chose "Lymelife" as one of my 5 Top Picks from this year's festival (out of 30 films). It also won the prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery and is now making the rounds of the festival circuit. Screen Media picked up the film for distribution and it hits theaters on April 8, 2009.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lymelife - while watching this film I kept hearing the song from Grease, good bye Sandra Dee when it came to Emma Roberts. I have no idea how she wound up in this film but it is the best thing she could have chosen. Emma plays a role that she would never dare do in a Disney film. It is as convincing as it is riveting. In this film she shows a side of herself that the public has never seen. She is funny, sad, smart and finding her sexuality all on screen. There must have been a fairy with magic dust on the set because she is obviously becoming one of the best actresses of her generation. There is a very brave scene toward the end that she shines in. She loses her virginity and it is painful, awkward, funny and beautiful. As a fan, I can't say enough about her. However, there are so many great performances in this film that there is never a dull moment. Rory Culkin and his obsessive longing for her feels so real. I wish I had a cute guy like that longing after me when I was Emma's age. And Kieran Culkin who is the love of my life is outstanding. He is tough but weak. I know that doesn't make sense but you have to see it to understand. Alec Baldwin is hilarious and really, really, sad. His performance may be the best thing about this film. Baldwin is in a bar with Timothy Hutton where they have a scene that is so freaking awkward and funny that it's hard to explain in words. Baldwin takes all of Hutton's verbal jabs with a stoic awkwardness I have never seen on film. It is truly amazing to watch. The ending disturbed me. It was torturous. I can't think of another word to describe it. Pure torture. Oh god! What a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've had time to really think about this one. I rambled my review on the other comment board right after seeing it at a special volunteer screening, but now that I've had time to reflect I feel this deserves a proper review. I am not a critic but I definitely have a strong opinion about film. I am film lover. And Lymelife is a rarity. I say that because I was able to get some insight into the film from the filmmakers who hosted the volunteer screening. I was stunned to learn that it was shot in 22 days on a tiny budget and not in digital. It is an American Spectrum film. Why? I have no idea. It is by far one of the most prestigious, smartest and well crafted films in the festival. All of the volunteers have been fighting to work the Lymelife screenings for good reason. It rocks! The story seems to be a simple coming of age story at first. But there's a strange uneasiness throughout the first twenty minutes or so where you're already guessing where this story is headed. And the amazing thing is that it takes you exactly where you need to go but leaves you wanting more at the end. And it leaves you questioning your own childhood and how you become who you are as a person. I'm in my twenties and have never asked myself the questions I'm asking myself after seeing this movie. And the other aspect is the humor. You'd expect this to be a straight drama, and I guess that's what most filmmakers would do. But not here. There is some very dark humor combined with some very light humor too. It's almost as if there's an intentional moment or two in every heavy scene that makes you laugh. Sometimes it's because you're uncomfortable, sometimes it's because it's just funny. The story follows Rory Culkin through the pains of being a kid with a screwed up family. He is simply sublime and gives a breakthrough performance as Scott Bartlett. Kieran Culkin plays and really is his older brother Jimmy. I am a big fan of his but haven't seen him for a while. His return to the screen in nothing short of dynamic, hysterical and heartbreaking. Alec Baldwin plays their dad Mickey. This performance is truly remarkable because of the way he plays such a jerk but continues to win you over. It's like being on a see saw. This is his best on screen work since The Cooler. And this film is much better than The Cooler. Emma Roberts plays Rory Culkin's best friend who he is in love with but is so afraid to make a move he talks to her when he's alone in his mirror and masturbates to her regularly. She has a breakthrough role here too. I've never seen her deliver this kind of performance and had no idea she could do it. She reminds me of Natalie Portman when she was in her earlier films. Timothy Hutton plays her father who is stricken with lyme disease. Hutton is just too good. It's almost unfair to put any other actors in the scenes with him because your eye is pulled to him. There is a scene that is one of the most insane, funny and uncomfortable scenes I have ever seen on film that takes place between him and Baldwin. It happens in a bar and all I can say is wow, I need to watch it again because the audience was cheering and laughing over a lot of the lines. Playing house mom is Jill Hennesey from Crossing Jordan. She is married to Baldwin and can actually act. I couldn't stand her show but obviously that was no fault of hers. She is spectacular. As is Cynthia Nixon who is married to Timothy Hutton. She is a woman on the verge of I don't know what, but it isn't good. And every time she appears on screen she seems to be creeping toward some inevitable breakdown. And the way the director composed the ending or the climax is unforgettable. All you know is that a tragedy is inevitable, but you don't know who, until the final moment of the film, will suffer most. And it's truly anyone's guess as to who will suffer most from this outcome. And what makes this different than other films of this caliber, American Beauty, Ice Storm is that the ending here is deliberately left open to interpretation. The filmmaker was asked about this in the "q and a" and he was very clear that his intention was not to tie everything up in "a neat bow". And that is the strongest thing about the movie. It lets you come up with your own conclusions about love, life and happiness. This is an award worthy film in every aspect. This is my first time writing an actual "review" so I hope I didn't give too much away but it is a must see.
Lymelife is the story of a family in Long Island's suburbia during the 1970's. This movie shows us how half truths and the exclusion of detail are in fact lies and even though we don't mean them to hurt they still do. The father (Alec Baldwin) is so enraptured by the suburbia lifestyle that he's completely forgotten that it's not money that makes you happy, but family. The mother who only wants the best for her children doesn't want to raise them in this judgmental place where she can't be herself. The brother, Jimmy, (Kieran Culkin) has a typical relationship with his father where he wants to be the exact opposite of him and does so by joining the army and running away. Rory Culkin does an exquisite job starring as Scott, the main character, who is the only one who is trying to put things into perspective for everyone else whilst going through puberty and fighting his insatiable love for the girl next door who sees him as a little brother. Although all of their problems seem trivial compared to their neighbor who has lyme disease that is like a constant acid trip and is ruining his life. All in all I would highly recommend seeing this movie because as depressing as I've made it sound it is in fact quite lifting and a great piece of cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I want to start by admitting that I have NEVER felt compelled to write
a comment on these boards... Usually, I read things and find that
people have pretty much covered whatever I would say, but in this case,
I could not hold back.
Recently I was invited to a private showing for the press in Los Angeles (I'm not in the press, so I hope it's okay I write this). It was a full theater and I was nervous because I didn't want to take an important persons seat! Anyway we were handed a list of Production Notes which included a lot of information on the shooting of the film, as well as biography's on the actors, director, writers and producers. I had no idea MARTIN SCORSESE was and Executive Producer on this film!!!
Now to the movie... It was so well done. The performances were truly some of the best I have ever seen (and I'm a BIG movie buff). The Director, Derick Martini, co-wrote the script with his brother Steven a long time ago. Apparently, they were able to get it accepted into the Sundance Lab and from there - they work-shopped scenes with different actors (although Kieran Culkin played Rory's role in the lab), and had special advisor's to help them shoot, edit and screen the test scenes... Let's just say - whatever that process was - it worked!...
I will not give a full blow-by-blow of the film, but here are some of my favorite scenes (although in my mind, this movie is already a classic)... There is a wonderful scene when Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin are smoking a joint and she's totally messing with his head (it's the first time smoking for him). Anyway, they are obviously talking about The Catcher In The Rye, but Rory is having a hard time remembering things - it's the funniest and most realistic "getting high" scene I have ever watched. Another great and memorable scene is a full blowout screaming argument between Alec and Jill Hennessy (who are married in the film). If this doesn't bring tears to your eyes - you are not human... Rory is upstairs crying as he hears his parents argue and WOW - very, very emotional (a woman next to me was totally crying! I felt bad for her - must have hit too close to home...). And by the way - this is what makes this film so brilliant - Right on the heels of that emotional fight scene is what will most likely go down as the best scene in the film... The Spyphilis Scene, between Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton... Talk about two heavyweight actors going toe-to-toe in a scene, it could not have been acted or directed any better... The whole screening room erupted with laughter, and that's what I mean about the Direction of the film, Martini constantly has us on a roller-coaster of emotions, tracking the main characters with precision and allowing the audience to connect to each one. Every time you get down, he lifts you back up... One of the people on the way out said "there is no way that was his first time directing" - I looked it up - and it was! Then there was the love scene between Rory and Emma - HELLO, I COULD Totally RELATE TO THIS! - it felt like the Martini's were in my shoes when I first had sex (better that they weren't)... It was so amazingly and tastefully done - not gratuitous at all and all I can say is Millennium Falcon! Everyone laughed so hard...
So, thats my story and by far, it's the best film I have seen in years! There is no doubt that all of the actors will shine from this movie. Baldwin is always brilliant, but I have never seen him so vulnerable. Emma Roberts is a quality actress and will be a huge movie star, Rory Culkin and Kieran Culkin are fantastic as brothers and Rory blew me away with his performance. Cynthia Nixon was very good, as I have never seen her play a role like this. Timothy Hutton was awesome - and reminds us in this movie of what a great actor he is. I would say the big surprise was Jill Hennessy - she was amazing!!! Forget Crossing Jordan - that was child's play for her - she has depth, warmth and toughness - and she brings it! Derick Martini did an incredible job, the performances and direction are Academy Award worthy for sure, in fact, this will be a contender for the next awards season - take it from me - a movie freak that actually follows every awards program (okay, I need to get a life, but so what)...
I hope everyone enjoys the film as much as I did... I know that I will go opening day (can't wait), and come back to see what everyone thinks.
Lymelife is one of those films you have to see twice in order to catch every detailed corner of the screen and every tick (pun intended) in all of the actors performances. The plot exists solely as an excuse to explore these fascinating, complex characters much like Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets. No coincidence he is a producer of the film. It captures a time and a place with ease but never smothers you in hokum. Standout performances upon second viewing go to Rory Culkin as the film's central character, a tall order for a youngster who carries the first twenty minutes of the film by observing and not saying too much. And that is the brilliance in the performance which he pulls off with ease and is extremely compelling in doing so. Alec Baldwin does his thing to a point. When everything goes downhill for him it is heartbreaking. Baldwin hasn't played a role like this in ages and it's great to see him back at it. Another is Timothy Hutton. An example of how confident this director is in his first film, he again uses very little dialogue and almost no exposition to establish Hutton's character's duality. He serves a a real person who suffers in silence, while somehow managing to provide a few gems of hilarious humor. He also serves as the film's theme, which really hit home the second time around. The first time the film is so engaging, especially in the way it is set up, that I found myself slightly behind most of the characters. Playing catch up is a great device that Martini uses to keep you fully engaged throughout the entire film. I really don't know how he did it with this human drama that has quite a bit of humor in it. This device is useful for a mystery type film, but somehow Martini manages to use it here to magnificent effect when applying it to his characters. To not spoil, my feeling on the ending is it is another risky choice that pays off. It is bold and beautiful. I did not want to leave the theater. Briefly, this is a must see, and I would not be surprised if some nominations come its way. Great work.
My friends and I saw this film at the Raquet Club. It moved me. I felt bad for Alec Baldwin even though he is flawed. Rory Culkin is a natural. His role in this film is a star making performance. The acting was aces all around. The story was very relatable to me because it was so much like real life that it even made me uncomfortable at times. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. I also cried. Some of my girlfriends had to shut me up during a scene with Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton in a bar. I guess I was screaming at the screen ad didn't even realize it. And the director was in the audience so it was a little weird. Although he was very funny about the whole thing at the question and answer. I asked a few silly questions but he rolled with it and couldn't be a more interactive, nice guy. The film he put together on a small budget is a miracle. I hope he does some more in the future. There is asome real talent her in the vein of P.T Anderson. I will definitely see it again when it hits Salt Lake.
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