Ray and his good friends grew up in their working class neighbourhood. Ray is a salesman but dreams of something more: he wants his own business, and wants to marry his childhood sweetheart...
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Neal Cassady is living the beat life during the 1940s, working at The Tire Yard and and philandering around town. However, he has visions of a happy life with kids and a white picket fence.... See full summary »
Ray and his good friends grew up in their working class neighbourhood. Ray is a salesman but dreams of something more: he wants his own business, and wants to marry his childhood sweetheart Jo. In order to fulfill his dreams, Ray takes out a loan which is well beyond the re-payments he can make on his meagre income. His friends get dragged into the fall-out when he can't keep up with payments, but will they stand by him or has he pushed them too far this time?
"Ten Benny", formerly entitled, "Nothing To Lose" is a surprising if not shocking directoral debut for Eric Bross. Mr. Bross has written, directed and produced a remarkable independent film, starring Adrien Brody as the hapless lead, "Ray", attempting to recover from a serious mistake, while using and abusing his long-time friendships along the way! This film is worth seeing if only to see the great performance Mr. Brody turns in.
"Ten Benny" tells a story of love, greed, betrayal, the limits of friendship, growing-up and taking responsibility. Mr. Brody displays acting skills similar to Al Pacino as he leads a first-rate up-and-coming supporting cast. The background to their interactions and a growing menace is "Donny" (James Moriarty)--a local mobster, while a counterweight is "Ray Sr." played by Frank Vincent, a former low-level mobster trying to "go straight" after an earlier brush with the law, and raise his son as a single father.
Technically, this independent film is excellent, with a musical score quite appropriate to the subject matter, and visually, the film is sharp and exciting. The writing is supurb, very emotional and convincing. The dialogue is spiked with the profanity of the film's locale, and is incredibly realistic. The movie was filmed on the turf where the story is set: the roads leading from downtown Newark to the suburbs and mansions of western Essex County, NJ.
Although, "Ten Benny" itself does refer to a particular unit of measurement (that I will not reveal), there are other interpretations of the title which are not so obvious to those not from this part of the world (NJ). The first is "ten" as in perfect, like the move "10"--with Bo Derek, while "Benny" is a street term for a particular kind of drug, and, as slang, "Benny" refers to New Yorkers, who typically travel the roads of New Jersey to Atlantic City, or other New Jersey Shore destinations in vehicles overloaded with people or luggage to gamble, swim or just escape from New York (it is a slightly derogatory or mocking term as in "Hey, Benny! That's a toll booth, not a urinal!". Many of these themes are explored or mentioned within "Ten Benny" as well as the obvious measurement reference.
Part of the focus of the film is New Jersey itself, if only as background to the tale. With Director Bross, it pays to look deeper and to not assume its "superficial" because the viewer is too lazy to do more than scratch the surface. Bross holds his best cards close to the vest, and plays them methodically and to great effect as he draws the audience into his subject matter.
This a wonderful independent film, that is dramatic, thoughtful and intentionally humorous at times. Most of us know someone like the characters portrayed, and sometimes it is refreshing to take a step back and see these types from another perspective. Mr. Bross has done a super job integrating all of these very interesting and sometimes scary characters into this very enjoyable film. It is worth seeing more than once to grasp the full nuance and depth of this film.
I have read a number of reviews of this film, which have not been made available through the IMDB. I would recommend the following reviews: Emanuel Levy in "Variety Weekly" of 4/17/95, "Playboy" magazine of 10/19/96 (2 1/2 bunnies), The Newark Star-Ledger Newspaper "The Ticket" magazine of 11/13/98 (2 1/2 stars), as just three examples of very favorable yet generally fair reviews of "Ten Benny" or its former title, "Nothing To Lose".
I will admit, however, that this film will either be loved or despised, depending upon one's point-of-view or station in life. The film is intended for a mature audience, but not so old that they have forgotten what is is like to be young and reckless! The movie, "Ten Benny" is a lot of fun to watch, and sometimes it will make the audience squirm, but in the end it is a crowd pleaser.
No, it is not a big Hollywood production like "Titanic," there are no helicopter shots of couples dangling on the point of a great ship, but "Ten Benny" is a great Independent film, and a much better film than the shlock most of the big Hollywood studios serve.
If possible, FIND this film, VIEW this film, then DECIDE for yourself if you agree with me that "Ten Benny" rates a "10".
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