5 items from 2008
Actor Josh Hartnett is so terrified of technology, he spent years avoiding the purchase of a cell phone.
The 29-year-old star - who plays gadget-savvy character Tom in new film August - admits that in real life he hates technological advances.
And Hartnett insists his resistance has left him unreachable in the past.
He says, "I'm not an early technology adapter. I resisted having a cell phone for a long time." »
It's "August" of 2001 in the New York City tech world; cue a story that staggers under the weight of its attempt to signal heavy end-of-an-era-ness.
Josh Hartnett skulks his way through this weak, wee picture as an arrogant CEO whose stock's share price has tumbled from $70 to less than a buck. The film never explains what exactly his company does, which is meant to be a surreal Bret Easton Ellis-like touch. Instead, it leaves the impression of a screenwriter who couldn't be bothered to find out what tech companies do or why they fail. »
- By KYLE SMITH
Ah, the halcyon days of 2001. The tragic death of Aaliyah shocked a nation, a boozy Ben Affleck did a stint in rehab, and a peerless mangler of the English language named George W. Bush had just started bumbling his way into the history books. Austin Chick's August takes audiences on a magic carpet ride back to that bygone age, but the era it's obsessed with began at the tail end of the previous millennium. August is a brooding, boring indie drama about the death of the culture-wide hallucination that was the dot-com bubble, and the moment when countless dot-com millionaires on paper became real-life paupers. Sporting a deeply unflattering pubic-hair mustache/tiny-goatee combo, Josh Hartnett stars as a cocky online entrepreneur whose world is collapsing as one impractical new venture after another dies an unmourned death. Hartnett is desperate to stay afloat in a toxic business environment, but his »
- Nathan Rabin
First Look is acquiring North American rights to the Sundance Film Festival premiere, which centers on a high-rolling Web startup founder (Hartnett) struggling to resuscitate his company and personal life on the eve of Sept. 11.
August is one of several star-driven projects to slowly emerge with distributors from January's disappointing Sundance market.
Charles Corwin, Hartnett, Elisa Pugliese, David Guy Levy and Clara Markowicz produced the film, a 57th & Irving presentation of an Original Media production made in association with Periscope Entertainment. Howard A. Rodman wrote the screenplay.
First Look has tentatively set a limited July 11 theatrical release. CAA is repping the filmmakers in the deal. »
Sundance Film Festival
PARK CITY -- August is another among this year's crop of features that demonstrates that having a cast with indie cred can sometimes do little to buoy a film's miscalculated execution.
The film's identifiable actors and the modest boxoffice performance of director Austin Chick's previous release, "XX/XY," might attract a buyer, but the film is unlikely to see salutary theatrical returns.
In mid-2001, Tom Sterling (Josh Hartnett) is riding the apogee of the dot-com bubble as CEO of New York-based Landshark, an Internet startup with a vaguely defined business model. While Tom hard-sells the company's services to dubious clients, his brother, Josh (Adam Scott), actually creates Landshark's broadband products.
Tom's life is full of the trappings of easy wealth -- a cash-green convertible Camaro, fancy restaurants, willing women and lavish spending. His obvious yearning for ex-girlfriend Sarrah (Naomie Harris) hints at his dissatisfaction with this extravagant lifestyle, but he's too focused on getting ahead to try to resuscitate their failed relationship.
When the cracks begin to show in Landshark's faulty business plan and the company's stock plummets, provoking a cash-flow crisis, Tom prefers to ignore the impending signs of catastrophic failure while his management team -- COO Melanie Hanson (Robin Tunney) and CFO Dylan Gottschalk (Andre Royo) -- scrambles to cover the mounting losses.
Despite the exigencies of his character's situation, Hartnett appears to be sleepwalking through the film, displaying a frustratingly narrow range of expression and emotion. Principal castmembers are broadly outlined and minimally motivated, and even a couple of intriguing supporting roles -- particularly Rip Torn as Tom's father and David Bowie as a supercilious corporate raider -- can't lift the performances out of the doldrums.
The actors are not well supported by Howard A. Rodman's self-satisfied script, which would rather tell than show, relying at several points on long, smug speeches that bring the narrative to a grinding halt. Chick appears confident that his cast plays convincingly enough without revealing much enthusiasm and neglects to lend a distinctive style on the technical side.
57th & Irving presents an Original Media production in association with Periscope Entertainment
Director: Austin Chick
Screenwriter: Howard A. Rodman
Executive producers: Patrick Morris, Austin Chick, Howard A. Rodman
Director of photography: Andrij Parekh
Production designer: Roshelle Berliner
Music: Nathan Larson
Costume designer: Erika Munro
Editor: Pete Beaudreau
Tom Sterling: Josh Hartnett
Joshua Sterling: Adam Scott
Melanie Hanson: Robin Tunney
Morela Sterling: Emmanuelle Chriqui
Sarrah: Naomie Harris
Dylan Gottschalk: Andre Royo
David Sterling: Rip Torn
Cyrus Ogilvie: David Bowie
Running time -- 88 minutes
No MPAA rating
5 items from 2008
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