|Index||10 reviews in total|
61 out of 72 people found the following review useful:
Dante in (and around) Las Vegas, 29 November 2009
Author: lazarillo from Denver, Colorado and Santiago, Chile
This movie is making the festival rounds right now, but unlike a lot of
over-hyped festival fodder,it is genuinely a good movie, which I
suspect will soon become more widely available. It reminded me somewhat
of the Coen brother's film "O Brother Where Art Thou?"--not in that it
is in any way unoriginal--but it has a similarly surreal, absurdist
sense of humor, and like the Coen brother's film, it is a modern
adaptation of a classic work of literature, in this case "Dante's
The great Steve Buscemi plays "John Alegheri" (as in Dante Alegheri), a reformed compulsive gambler with a comfortable, if mundane, life living in a tract home and working for an insurance agency. But after he asks his diminutive boss (Peter Dinklage) for a raise, he suddenly finds himself promoted to fraud and, along with a partner named "Virgil" (Romany Malco), is sent on a fraud investigation, which proves to be a metaphoric descent into hell--and in particular, his own personal version of hell since the investigation takes place in and around Las Vegas, a city where he had some unpleasant personal history.
He and "Virgil's" various bizarre encounters on their journey include a sexy stripper in a wheelchair (Emamanuelle Chriqui) still trying to perform lap dances, a group of heavily armed right-wing survivalists (including "O Brother's" Tim Blake Nelson) who also happen to be nudists, and in the most surreal scene, a tow-truck driver who has second job as a circus performer and as the result of a bizarre accident is stuck in a lawn chair in a flame-retardant suit that periodically catches on fire (and, hilariously, what he really wants is a cigarette). There's a some nice twists at the end and the character reaches a final personal epiphany while buying scratch tickets at a convenience store on the outskirts of the dreaded Vegas.
Sarah Silverman plays a co-worker who he starts an affair with after a quickie in the woman's bathroom before he leaves on his journey. It's an unusual role for Silverman, not only in that it exploits her considerable sex appeal, but also in that while it is a comedy role, it is one very different from her usual foul-mouthed stand-up persona. Buscemi, on the other hand, doesn't stretch himself too much, but he doesn't really have to either--he's great at roles like this. The director was actually first-timer and this is particularly impressive as a debut effort (I suppose could complain that the only full-frontal nudity is provided, not by Emanuelle Chriqui or Silverman, but by Tim Blake Nelson!--but I won't). This was entertaining from start to finish. I'd really recommend it.
11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Quirky movie lacks compelling storyline, 30 July 2010
Steve Buscemi holds this one together, the other main characters are impossible to identify with - either because they don't say much or they are mysterious and mean. There are a lot of bizarre situations that are thrown in which don't really further the storyline but show off a type of artistic creativeness. They definitely had a lot of good ideas here, and perhaps the movie would have been more interesting if they simply abandoned the tired story line and went from one hypnotic scenario to the next (Like Fear and Loathing). But the main story (the story about the insurance fraud) progresses in the background without momentum and when it is finally resolved it feels anticlimactic. But there is another story here, perhaps more important - the one concerning Steve Buscemis past. This could have been developed into a compelling and meaningful drama but it is only used to further the comedy (and to tack on the Confucious ending) There are a few laughs along the way here and a good deal of cute/quirky ideas. Could have been improved with a bit of storyline editing beforehand.
13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Could have been a LOT better... But still not terrible., 21 July 2010
Author: Lokesh Prakash from San Francisco
I was really excited about this movie. When I saw the trailer for this
movie, I felt like it couldn't be out on DVD soon enough. As soon as
this was out on Redbox I rented it. Lucky for me I had a promo code and
got this movie for free. You can just see how low the budget on this
movie would have been.
It had it funny moments which were REALLY funny, but they were few and far apart. When you snag actors like Steve Buscemi, Romany Malco, Sarah Silverman and Peter Dinklage, you ensure they have a script to match their caliber. This script was mediocre and the story had no drive or punch. I expected a bit more off the ending, but to me it was an anticlimax.
My suggestion is to rent this movie if you really like the leads. Steve Buscemi and Romany Malco have done a great job acting. If you are expecting a classy suave movie set in Las Vegas, look elsewhere.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A waste of Steve Buscemi's talents, 27 December 2010
Author: stonypaul from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Steve Buscemi is at his best when working with a fast-paced script full of unanswerable one-liners (see 'Delirious'). Unfortunately the script for this film was was not of this ilk, and a Steve Buscemi at half speed is not a funny Steve Buscemi. What were the script writers and/or directors thinking of? Rarely do films with such potential for comedy fall as short as this one has. I watched it until the rolling credits for the main reason of seeing what the unsubtle twist was going to be. There was clearly going to be one and when it arrived it was as surprising as sunrise. In terms of entertainment value it's just about watchable but if you're a Steve Buscemi fan you might be disappointed with this when you quickly conclude that you have seen the man in far better form.
12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
The Dante is Lost on Me, But the Film is Great, 12 August 2010
Author: gavin6942 from United States
John (Steve Buscemi), a recovering gambler, is sent back to Las Vegas
by his employer to research insurance fraud. Along the way he must face
junkyard thugs, a crippled stripper and try to maintain a relationship
with his less-than-stable girlfriend (Sarah Silverman).
This story is somehow based on the writings of Dante Aligheri. I don't see it. I freely admit by knowledge of "Inferno" and "Paradiso" is not on the level it could be, but this had to be a very loose interpretation to say the least. However, regardless of the source material, the finished product is a gem that sadly did not get the full attention it deserved. This should have been a major theatrical release and success rather than a film festival darling.
Sure, it has that "independent" feel to it, like a darker "Garden State"... but if people like Wes Anderson can make it big off of the indie film feeling, why not this film? Steve Buscemi has a huge cult following, as does Sarah Silverman. Buscemi was what attracted me to this film -- he has never failed to disappoint me in any of his roles from "Big Lebowski" to "Ghost World" to "Reservoir Dogs". One of the biggest flaws another indie film, "Floundering", made was using Buscemi too little.
The directing is tight, the story is tight... the word "tight" is really the way to describe this film. The pace keeps steady, with never a dull moment despite not really being anything close to an action film. John is a perfect everyman inserted into odd situations (did I mention the nudists?) so we can both sympathize with him, yet enjoy that he has quirks we wouldn't, and weaknesses we do not. It is as though watching our best friend on an adventure.
If you missed this one on the festival circuit (and let's be frank, most of us do not have the luxury of attending them), please do yourself a favor and rent this film, or perhaps even purchase it. I think it's the kind of film that will have a strong word-of-mouth fan base, and it would be in your best interest to discover it before all your friends have first. So many films slip under the radar... don't let "Saint John of Las Vegas" be one of them.
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Why would someone with no evident sense of humor write and direct a comedy?, 11 January 2012
Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't really know a lot about how indy movies like this come to be.
This isn't the result of some determined filmmaker exhausting his
credit cards to see his lifelong dream come to fruition. This isn't the
product of some movie star slumming their way to artistic credibility.
This wasn't some cracklin' crazy script that a producer fell in love
with and just had to see made. There's no sex. There's no violence.
There's no blasphemy or other provocative storytelling. It's not
noticeably clever or whimsical and Saint John of Las Vegas sure as hell
isn't funny. Yet, a few million dollars and a cast of talented
performers somehow wound up entrusted to writer/director Hue Rhodes to
do with as he saw fit. We would have all been better off if "The
American Dream" Dusty Rhodes had been given a shot at making a motion
picture. 90 minutes of Sarah Silverman talking with a lisp and
delivering the bionic elbow to every other member of the cast would
have been more entertaining.
John (Steve Buscemi) is a sad sack with an out-of-date hairdo who works for an insurance company. He's also an absolutely, completely and utterly horrible gambler. He's the sort who'll buy 20 dollars of scratch-off lottery tickets and scratch them off in the store because he needs to win enough money to pay for the tickets. One day, John goes in to ask his boss (Peter Dinklage) for a raise and winds up getting assigned to investigate a fraudulent auto accident with Virgil (Romany Malco), the off-putting, hot shot lead investigator of the company. After banging his smiley face-obsessed cubicle neighbor (Sarah Silverman) in the handicapped bathroom, despite knowing she's involved with his boss, John sets out with Virgil on a voyage of non-discovery.
If I tell you that John and his "guide" Virgil eventually meet a guy named Lucypher (Matthew McDuffie), you can probably guess what metaphor is at work here. However, this story has as much in common with Dante's Inferno as the back of a box of Captain Crunch. Hue Rhodes had better hope there isn't a circle in Hell reserved for people who make homages as botched and listless as Saint John of Las Vegas. In fact, if you know someone who's watched this movie and doesn't know it's classical origins, don't tell them. After sitting through this lifeless dreck, they'll never want to read the original.
The actors here are all capable of fine work and Silverman looks pretty sexy while turning in a welcomely restrained performance. And for all his deficiencies as a storyteller, Rhodes' visual sensibility is at least more developed than the multitude of aspiring directors whose every inspiration seems to flow from music videos. But goodness gracious, this thing is not funny. It's not deliberately funny. It's not inadvertently funny. You can't laugh with it. You can't laugh at it. You can't laugh about it. The few times the film strays into the vicinity of a possibly comedic circumstance, like when John and Virgil encounter a nudist militia, writer/director Rhodes goes out of his way to avoid any humorous potential like an obsessive-compulsive who won't step on any cracks in the street.
Saint John of Las Vegas is so lame and pointless that the only reaction it can spark in the viewer is incredulity at how anyone ever thought this thing needed to be made. The on screen appeal of these actors is all that allows it to be tedious instead of torturous. They don't actually do anything worth watching, but their presence can at least distract you from how poorly conceived and structured is this production. But you'd still be better off reading Dante in the original language, even if the only Italian you know is Chef Boyardee.
15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Could not care less about Dante's Inferno. This was boring., 13 July 2010
Author: siderite from Romania
I've seen a lot of interpretations on Dante's Inferno: the guy enters
hell. From here to saying any movie about someone's falling is an
interpretation is a stretch. And I know the writer and the director
thought they were being smart doing a modern adaptation from a story no
one really cares about and basically replacing everything, but I was
the one watching, and I didn't find it smart, interesting or even good.
Steve Buscemi is one of my favorite actors, and he did play the part well, but the plot was simply a boring, useless, close to horizontal, descent into a hell that few people could have related to. The funny parts were not funny, the smart parts were obtuse, the action parts not existent. Oh, wait a minute... it was MY descent into hell, when I realize I've just wasted an hour and a half of my life for no good reason. I see now... really smart.
Bottom line: Sorry, Mr. Buscemi, sorry sexy Sarah Silverman, the film just sucked for me.
eccentric characters in eccentric movie, 3 February 2013
Author: zif ofoz from United States
enjoyed this short movie - (just under 85 minutes) - because the actors
are in full character start to finish. and the strip club scene is a
great laugh with the wheelchair bound stripper and buscemi playing her
once you meet the characters they are consistent and do not vary. malco is so good in his wacky and slightly mean insurance investigator role you have to like him. and buscemi is perfect as the 'forever looser' you just feel sorry for him. and casting dinklage as the insurance company owner was just genius! and silverman is always easy to like.
the story is easy to follow until the junk yard scene near the end with the gun shots! at that point with buscemi escaping and calling the cops (watch it) i became confused as to exactly what just took place in the plot line. that is the only reason i am rating it 2 stars short of a 10.
if you enjoy indie films pick this one up!
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Interesting film about an addicted gambler, 19 June 2012
Author: starshiptrooper100 from United States
Saw this on Netflix Streaming recently. It's a small film about one man's addiction to gambling and his job as an insurance adjuster. It's not an earth shaking topic. Steve Buscemi's not saving the world or even the United States. However, I love Steve Buscemi. He's an actor's actor. I have never seen him in a performance I didn't like. OK maybe one-:). It's not often he's the main character. I only wish I could pull this one (hee hee) as well as he did in this movie. the movie. And the same goes for Peter Dinkle. I would have rewritten his role slightly to give him a bigger role.I found the inside details about how the insurance adjuster business works rather interesting. And Sarah Silverman is ravishing! And as for people who say this is not funny. I found it humorous enough. It's not slapstick but rather people are portrayed more or less realistically unlike TV sitcoms but it still allows you to see their character flaws in a humorous light. If you don't mind self-deceiving characters (is that a word?) and not many things getting blown up or people getting killed then this is your movie.
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Characters, acting, and weird Nevadaness made this movie for me., 22 May 2011
Author: fanodabuff from United States
I knew nothing about this movie, but ended up catching it on a movie channel recently. I thoroughly enjoyed it and watched parts over again. It lacked a lot of action and it didn't really have many punchlines, but I found this lack of predictability to be one of the most endearing parts about the movie. While the movie is not at all predictable and often pretty absurd, it does not feel as if the absurdity relies on weird twists or surprises. While the situations feel bizarre, the situations and characters are much closer to reality than most everything else Hollywood puts out. I thought the acting was great, the characters bizarre, and the situations hilarious. Needless to say I found it very compelling and funny, and i did not need any Dante references to appreciate it.
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