Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
With any comedy there is also a realm of truth and seriousness. The
point of this film which I think the first reviewer missed, is that it
is telling us something about the reality TV craze that has swept our
country. Even after the horror of 9/11 which came after this film, we
soon went back to the craze of reality TV shows where so called non
actors who are real people are paid to be on TV whether it is the
Bachelor or Survivor, they are often sleep deprived to be more
emotional and make whatever happens on camera more intense. So how real
is real when it is this contrived? In this film Edtv I see the insanity
and ugliness of the producers wonderfully portrayed by Rob Reiner and
Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen eventually so sickened by what the show is doing
to Ed's (Matthew MaConaughey's) life that she helps him to get out of
the live TV broadcast by blacking mailing Rob Reiner's character with
some highly personal information. While the film is funny and
entertaining, it also, if we are pay attention tells us that this need
to be voyeurs into the so called private and real lives of each other
is dangerous and even contrived to the point of ruthless by the
producers who use Ed and anyone he dates and his family for their own
success. Family secrets and mistakes are revealed on television in this
film, in glaring ways that break up Ed's mother and step dad and he
loses his new girlfriend thanks to his life being public.
Gee, much like reality TV today! Yes, one can argue that the non actors real people who sign up should know better and whatever they get, they deserve. Maybe we should also know better than to be a nation that peeps through key holes. This film is relevant and well acted by everyone in it.
The first review of this film loses all creditability when they get one of the main actresses mixed up with her sister. This is not Meg Tilly of "Agnes of God" Fame, this is Jennifer Tilly of "Bullets Over Broadway fame". I thought this film was a wild ride, over the top and not at all what I thought. It is scary and a tad sick, but never so sick I had to shut my eyes. For the worst night mare you can dream of this type of film does it well. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and Jennifer, not Meg Tilly does what she does so well. She plays a character so over the top you can hardly imagine anyone like her and yet she scares the hell out of you. Much like Kathy Bates in "Misery". Another great film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. All the performances are great and for a scary wild ride I suggest this film.
This short film seemed far longer than it was. Sterling Fitzgerald's performance is one note. She looks tense and strained the entire movie. The boy playing her student who flirts with disaster by giving her a peck on the cheek reminded me somewhat of Harold in the wonderful "Harold and Maude". However Matthew Christopher possesses none of the charm and yet at the same time teen age suffering that Bud Cort so easily showed us. The acting I did care for came from the husband played by Matt Caruso, who seemed far more natural and actually had more than one note when it came to acting. The combination of a tedious and moody piece scored with moody music makes this short seem very long. It is a slice of life, yet I feel no desire to learn what happens to Abbey when she driving away from her home or her marriage at the end of the film. I just don't care about her or her student. We never know why this young man is suffering or if he is a spoiled brat. If he is a brat, why? There is no hint as to why he is as he is. One feels no connection with Abby for her plight which I am never sure what it is? A husband who may be cheating or a student she might have sexual feelings for? It is hard to read anything on this actress's face, except a tense strained look the entire time as she continually wipes a strand, the same strand of hair from her face in a tense strained gesture. I can never tell just how she feels about the cheating husband or the boy she might feel an attraction to. This may be a case of actors who just don't understand layers. Who play the obvious outside of the characters and the end of the story before it even ends, with no idea how to think loud thoughts that register on film and show what they are feeling on their faces, body language or gestures. They may not understand that just because the character doesn't have the lines they are thinking and not speaking, that doesn't mean the character isn't thinking and feeling beyond what the words are. How many times in life, do we say one thing, think another thing and feel even something else all at the same time. These actors, except for the actor playing the husband seem to play only the end results of this story which will be unhappy and outside clichés of how tense and unhappy people look from the outside, with not much going on inside and that is evident with every close up or word spoken by them. This makes me wonder what the director and producer were thinking who cast them, didn't they tape the auditions and review them? It wouldn't be bad if this was a student film and under grad, but it isn't and so one expects better. One doesn't expect to see a short film and feel like I can't wait for this to end. The idea of the unhappy teacher and a younger man, her student and a possible attraction is not a new idea and has been done many times. In this instance one would want at least the acting to pull you into this story so one cares what happens to these characters. All I felt was a vagueness and one note of playing tense misery from Abbey and a sour brat from the student. Surely there was more to why these people behaved as they did, so that we might care and wonder as to what their outcome might be. Other wise why bother to keep watching?
If this is the follow up to "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at
Her" then this film which uses the same format as this writer/director
did before in 2000, it fails. Some of the actors & I assume the same
characters or not, in "Nine Lives" show up in each other's plots.
The characters reappear in one another's stories. Are they the same character or a new character? Not always easy to tell this. Some stories have no reappearance of any character from before in the series of scenes of "Nine Lives". It would have been far better to have either at least one character reappear to show the connection in every short story or none at all, with the exception of the first scene when all the characters in the 1st scene are new to us.
This is the same short scene format used in the 2000 film all about the lives of women in conflict. It was good the first time, twice was not written as well this time. This director Rodrigo Garcia has gone on to direct in The Sopranos & Six Feet Under. What happened this time I wonder?
I know a big accomplishment is to get the "name" actors to work for scale or free, in these short scenes he doesn't have to pay them as much vs. doing a full length feature where he would tie up the actor for more than one day. It was said at the screening I attended in LA, that often these were shot in one take. So he doesn't really need to direct these actors much or at all & again they don't end up spending much time working for scale or free. Some name actors end up feeling at a certain point that to work for scale is like working for free.
Holly Hunter who I adore, ends up having had another abortion as she did in the first movie with this director, playing a different character but with the same type of bad relationship troubles. With the exception of Sissy Spacek he ends up using the television actors in more than one scene & this is not the case with the film actors. I suspect the television actors were not as concerned as the film actors might be at having to work for scale or free for more than one day. Although he got two actors who are now series regulars from TV's current hits, Medium & Invasion, these shows were not out at the time they made this movie & perhaps that is why he got them to be in more than one scene.
I cannot tell if we are flashing FWD or backwards. Some scenes like the last one with Glenn Close & Dakota Fanning had no other characters from other scenes & their scene had a beginning, middle & end. This scene stands on it's own, while the other scenes do not. In other scenes we are left hanging to compel us to watch more & to see who we just met, that might show up next in another scene & how they might know the next set of people in the next scene. Which is a compelling way, cliff hanger style to keep us watching.
The films "Magnolia" written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson & Lawrence & Meg Kasdan's "Grand Canyon", do what this writer/director wanted to do far better by intertwining characters into each other's stories lines with far more subtleness & far better writing. The characters in "Nine Lives" keep talking about how we are all connected & what a small world it is. No need to do this in "Magnolia", the writer just effortlessly showed it to us, without ever explaining & again over explaining this concept to us. Rodrigo Garcia in,"Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her" in terms of the time line making sense & the overlapping of characters in each other's scenes moves that film along without confusion & compelled me to keep watching.
Kathy Baker gives a wonderful performance, as does Mary Kay Place, Holly Hunter & Joe Mantegna. Some quieter & equally wonderful performances come from the not so famous actors such as Jason Isaacs, Aomawa Baker & Sydney Tamiia Poitier as well. Robin Wright Penn does some nice alone, loud thinking & feeling work as the conflicted mother to be who has just seen the man from her past that used to swallow her whole. Aidan Quinn is the sensitive, philosophy spouting & cheerful friend that Sissy Spacek embarks on an affair with.
Lisa Gay Hamilton does a riveting job as the molested daughter returning home, her life in shreds to confront her father. However, I knew at the start that this was the molestation confrontation scene. And much later when I see her as the calm, friendly nurse to Kathy Baker I wonder is this before or after the confrontation with her father? If before, then we are going backwards from the start of the movie. If her scene as the nurse with Kathy Baker is after the confrontation scene with her dad at her childhood home, then she didn't pull the trigger of the gun in her scene that ended with the gun at her head, then pointed at her father & then in her mouth. I don't object to that ending. I wondered is this the same character, the distraught daughter & the nurse?
The acting is good even w/ the confusion of a time line. Maybe something happened in the editing process to make the time line so confusing. When one gets so much talent for the right price one would expect better from the writing & directing. If one hasn't seen "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her" or "Magnolia" one may find this movie fascinating. If you have seen this director's other movie or "Magnolia" you might be disappointed.