Another Day in Paradise (1998) Poster

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A work of distinction - not for all tastes
grahamclarke21 March 2004
While vastly superior to Larry Clark's other films, "Another Day in Paradise" shares with them a brazen directness which makes it uneasy viewing, particular the many scenes picturing graphic violence. However it's a powerful and moving film with some exceptional acting talent on display.

Clark's obsession with teenagers of the wilder variety is prevalent as always but is balanced by the older surrogate parent couple played by James Woods and Melanie Griffith. Woods once again brings his famed intensity in a well rounded portrayal in which he's not only called upon to play a hardened, ruthless criminal, but also to reveal the more human qualities albeit buried very deep within.

Melanie Griffith is surprisingly effective as Wood's partner in crime. Clark's interest in them as people first and then as criminals, places this movie in a category well above the usual criminals on the run fare.

The younger criminal counterparts are played excellently by Natasha Gregson Wagner and Vincent Kartheiser. There is an almost documentary sense of authenticity to their acting. Oddly enough neither seemed to have as yet progressed to roles of much importance. Kartheiser in particular is an actor to watch out for. (He was superb in the somewhat flawed "The Unsaid").

The complexity of the relationship between the older childless couple and the teenage couple, while not overtly examined, is explored with subtlety which allows the viewer to make his own evaluation.

With large doses of drugs and violence this is clearly not a movie for all tastes. It is however a work of distinction.
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powerful realism
fairygirl41122 June 2002
This is one of the most disturbing, pessimistic, and overall depressing films I've ever seen -- naturally I loved it. It affected me powerfully. The camera work/artistic shot set-ups, along with the dark color quality set the tone for the whole movie. Not at all like the unappetizing "Kids," director Larry Clark's first feature, this movie is constantly shocking, but not just for the sake of shock value. It's unashamedly graphic in a way that most contemporary films avoid, making it cuttingly real. It also stands apart from most big heist movies, because it is character- rather than plot-driven.

James Woods is fantastic as always, and even Melanie Griffith (not one of my faves) is very well cast. The young Vincent Kartheiser, however, as a teen runaway turned junkie/petty criminal, steals the show. The camera loves him, and his adolescent volatility is painfully believable. I wasn't as much of a fan of Natasha Gregson Wagner, as Kartheiser's girlfriend, but even she surprised me with her dramatic final sequence.

WARNING: this movie is not for the faint of heart. I am personally a fan of anything that breaks new ground, or that defies convention. This film does both. But it is extremely graphic.
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Familiar but worth a look
kilgore-713 May 1999
Larry Clark's (KIDS) second film, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE features an explosive performance by James Woods as a "professional" thief/junkie, who along with his girlfriend (a well cast Melanie Griffith) adopt two young lovers (Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner) and hit the road in search of drugs and money. Mel (Woods) and Sid (Griffith), who see Rosie (Wagner) and Bobbie (Kartheiser) as younger versions of themselves, teach them the ropes of criminal life.

It is a familiar story, and there is no doubt the characters' vision of paradise shown in the beginning of the film, with its endless supply of drugs and feeling of family, is quickly going to deteriorate into violence and death. I am reminded of the superior DRUGSTORE COWBOY, which also follows a "family" of junkies who rob to pay for their habits, but fine performances by the four leads, especially Woods, make PARADISE worth a look.

Clark's cinema vérité style of direction (a la KIDS) supplies the feeling of uneasiness throughout the film and heightens the impact of the jarring violence. The soundtrack of great soul tunes effectively mirrors the contradictory feelings of despair and hope that plague the characters. The film is not without flaws but recommended to fans of the road/lovers on the lam movies like BADLANDS, TRUE ROMANCE etc.
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Junkies on the Run - DRUGSTORE COWBOY Style...
Don-1027 July 1999
Another film of the drug/gangster sub-genre, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE is upper echelon material as far as these pictures go. It is also a sibling to DRUGSTORE COWBOY unintentionally. There are so many similarities because it is impossible to make this type of movie nowadays without being repetitive. No matter. Director Larry Clarke (KIDS, ew!) and main booster James Woods himself dive into that disgusting and sometimes frantically hilarious world of sex, drugs, and driving around. The film works because there are some good characterizations here and people who actually show some concern for each other throughout the haze of it all.

Melanie Griffith plays "Sid", James Woods' girlfriend in the story and delivers some of the finest moments of her career. Not since WORKING GIRL have I seen such a likeable and ballsy portrayal from Griffith, who is a junkie with a knack for mothering the 2 teen runaways and a potent trigger finger when one is needed. The runaways are the children Woods and Griffith parent vicariously through in the most unusual of ways. The kids (Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Wagner) are a version of Bonnie and Clyde, while the adults resemble a warped Ozzie and Harriett. It all adds up to a group of 4 remembering DRUGSTORE COWBOY. This crew needs drugs and they get them by stealing from pharmacists just as Matt Dillon's crew did.

The setting is the early 1970's I guess, and the music reflects the period well. Funk and blues reign over the film's violent and illegal activities while adding a sense of romance to it. You get that feeling in your heart that it won't last (a la BONNIE AND CLYDE, DRUGSTORE COWBOY). Woods character starts out cynical and wise to the "life", but turns ugly as you figure him to do. The young kids who looked up to him throughout grow tired naturally, but his reluctance to grow old possesses him to keep them around. This is where Melanie Griffith is able to shine. She is a sweet, attractive woman who happens to stick needles in her neck. Nobody's perfect.

James Woods was born to play the creep. He has some great lines in ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. His stories are funny, his trademarks are constant (booyah!), and his fits are worth the price of admission. He is so good at coming across initially confident, eventually desperate and evil. Woods must have had much faith in director Clarke's abilities and the casting of Natalie Wood's daughter, Natasha is a nice, offbeat touch. This is low-budget, nasty fare, a descendant of the countless druggie flicks of the 70's, 80's and PULP FICTION. It is sometimes amazing to see how low actors will go to capture this wild world of fun and drugs in the dark.

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faxman14 June 1999
I started watching this film rather late at night thinking I would unwind for a few minutes and then retire for the day. As I sat watching this film it's intensity began to build and draw me in. The story itself is nothing new. It was the performers that kept me involved. It was no surprise to me that James Woods would be his excellent self. The pleasant surprise was Melanie Griffith. She displayed some range I had'nt witnessed from her before. As the young street couple Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner show great promise as young actors.Kartheiser in particular. Execution is raw and at times it's hard to witness whats going on. Recommended. Give it a shot.
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Extremely well executed drama...
dwpollar11 January 2010
1st watched 12/26/2009 – 8 out of 10(Dir-Larry Clark): Extremely well executed drama about a couple of older drug-using thieves who take a younger couple under their wings as they survive in this rough un-forgiving chaotic world. The movie begins as the younger couple is introduced and the male character(played by Vincent Kartheiser) robs a community college's snack room of it's vending machine change and gets ferociously beat up by a security guard but then kills him. Uncle Mel(played by James Woods) then invites the kids to tag along with him and his girl and they graduate to bigger thefts with bigger consequences. The older couple(who can't have kids) kind of take on a tutoring and parenting role to the younger couple and they start developing a good friendship as well. It's obvious there are needs being fulfilled both ways in a companionship perspective as they both have many losses in their personal lives. Mistakes start being made after it's determined the younger girl is pregnant and the younger couple start evaluating whether this life is for them. This causes friction in the characters in this no-holds barred insane lifestyle movie where the characters just want to make good for themselves and this vulnerability brings the audience to like the characters. Melanie Griffith is un-expectedly excellent as the older woman and the overall acting and direction is very well done. You believe this story and that keeps you interested and involved until the end. The movie itself is not for the faint-at-heart but it is a definite un-heralded gem in the independent film-making world and should be viewed.
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Nicely done
bhouser15 December 1999
This one worked for me. The superb acting and fine camera work made this very believable. The scenes are some of the most realistic I've seen. Particularly noteworthy are the scenes involving extreme tension.

Throughout the picture I felt an urging to like these characters, sensing that they were, deep down, decent people who somehow got wrapped up in this type of life.

I'm not generally a fan of Griffith, but this role suits her well and her acting is top-notch. Woods is almost always exceptional, and his work here is no exception. The younger stars also perform quite well with this challenging, emotional material. And I thought the acting of the minor characters was excellent, suggesting the director had his act together on this one.

You have to acclimate to the language and level of tension early on or the movie will drive you nuts. But if you do, it begins to involve you deeply in the characters' situations and lives.
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Superior crime story. One of James Woods best performances.
Infofreak10 January 2002
'Kids' director Larry Clark really comes up trumps with this fine story of crime, addiction and surrogate families. Relative unknown Vincent Kartheiser, and the up and coming Natasha Gregson Wagner ('Lost Highway', 'Two Girls and a Guy') are fine as the young wanna be thieves, but the real stars of the show are their mentors' played by James Woods and Melanie Griffith.

Griffith is often ridiculed for her flakiness, but should be applauded for taking riskier, more challenging material such as this and John Waters' 'Cecil B. DeMented'. Woods is a ridiculously underrated actor, and along with the equally underestimated James Caan, is rivaling the much more celebrated De Niro and Pacino as best American actors of their generation in my opinion. Woods is simply sensational as the motor mouth Mel, a complex and unpredictable character. His performance here ranks with 'Videodrome', 'Cop' and 'The Boost' as one of his most memorable.

Forget the spurious 'Kalifornia', 'Drugstore Cowboy' and 'True Romance' comparisons. They are all great movies, but this is no rehash or rip off. It's a fantastic movie in its own right. Don't miss this one!
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What's wrong with you people?
MikeK-717 June 1999
Almost everybody who wrote a review for this movie seem to say that the movie sucked, I disagree. Larry Clark has a real knack for showing society unflinching, raw and vital. The acting is superior and doesn't pull any punches. James Woods deserves some sort of award, he hasn't been better in any other movie. The music is perfect, the cinematography is lush, poetic. See the movie, you won't be disappointed, unless you're one of those wussies with a weak stomach. Look fast for Leo Fitzpatrick (Telly from KIDS) as the guard at the Reverend's house.
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A gritty, moving film with terrific performances
mattymatt4ever31 March 2001
I read in a screenwriting book that the first thing a screenwriter should remind him/herself is don't think up an idea and then say to yourself, "It's been done before." Because no matter how many times that idea was used before, there's always a different approach you can take towards it. This movie clarifies that statement. It takes your standard premise of drug-addicted hustlers on the lam and transforms it brilliantly into this moving, thought-provoking piece of work.

Larry Clark made his debut with the thoroughly disappointing--at least to me--urban drama "Kids." That was a film with no intention, characters you couldn't give a damn about and was just all over the map. Clark definitely showed he has an eye for gritty realism, but put it to bad use with that horrendous and profane motion picture.

Now, "Another Day in Paradise" had its share of four-letter words, in fact I think it had more, but that didn't matter to me. Because the characters, no matter how much drugs they use and no matter how dishonest their lives are, were people you can care for and feel their every emotion and just know that they're really good human beings who happen to be geared in the wrong direction, from their upbringing and society they grew up in.

The performances were groundbreaking. This is one of James Woods' best performances. This is the kind of role he was born to play. I can't imagine a single actor doing a better job. The supporting cast was great, too.

This is the kind of film that catches your eye from start to finish. It starts out with a great shot, with Vincent Kartheiser waking up and lighting up a cigarette while 70's soul music fills the soundtrack. Speaking of great music, Clarence Carter performs his great hit "I'm Looking For a Fox" in one scene. The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful, with the kind of songs I love singing along to.

I highly recommend this movie. However, it is a pretty disturbing film, so be careful what mood you're in when you decide to rent it.
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This is Larry Clarks best.
lilcoko8413 March 2003
Once again Larry Clark has made a film that is mesmerizing, gut wrenching, and shocking. This movie is about two junkies(James Woods and Melanie Griffith) "who adopt" two young lovers (Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner) into their world of Crime and Drugs. Yeah its a old theme, but the great casting and flawless acting made this movie incredibly touching and different, standout performances by Vincent Kartheiser and James Woods made this movie so belivable. Throughout the entire film I felt as if these characters were so real and I was merely watching a documentary. This movie is very explicit and it is not for anybody that can't handle seeing plenty of sex, drugs, and violence.
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The great acting is what highlights this film.
obi-312 August 1999
This is not a movie for prudes or wusses. It's very powerful --and not very pretty. Gross, actually, in many cases (just the smoking of cigarettes in practically every scene makes you want to wash your clothes). And the needle jab to the neck -- yikes! -- be prepared! But the acting is OUTSTANDING -- especially Melanie Griffith and James Woods playing two of the biggest dopers on celluloid. I hope they both get Oscar nominations for their roles -- they deserve it.
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James Woods is Spectacular!
pzivojinovic25 December 2016
This film was a rather dark portrayal of young run always that fall into drugs and crime. The film was edgy, but so very well acted that it deserves a viewing by those that appreciate good character portrayal. Vincent Kartheiser debuted in his first film as an adult (although playing a 16 year old), showing that he truly has talent and can dig deep for such a complex character in this part. James Woods was part of the production team of the film and while this is not a movie that I expect did well at the box office, it certainly is another one of Wood's demonstrations of excellent character acting.

All the actors did the movie for scale and from what I understand Woods even ended up funding most of the movie when the production ran out of money at one point. Lots of good black humor, and Woods is always great in everything, but best when cast in really nasty roles like this, which was probably written for him. As usual in this type of part, he's completely disgusting, but still somehow likable (at least for the first 2/3 of this movie), and always hilarious. Some of the clothes that Griffith and Wagner wear are to die for (though they look more late 60's than 70's if you wanna get picky, but who cares?) And of course the soundtrack is amazing and sets the mood in every aspect.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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"Okay? So you get in there and buy us a f*ing shovel."
rhinocerosfive-122 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Melanie Griffith is excellent; how many times do you get to say that? She hasn't been this good since SOMETHING WILD. In fact all the acting is outstanding - Natasha Gregson Wagner and Vincent Kartheiser are scary real; James Woods rarely gets his own movie, and this proves again that when you want to cast a scumbag's scumbag, you call this man and you ask nicely.

The whole thing is better than it oughtta be by a significant factor. This is how you make a no-budget crime movie. Every scene moves the story, every line explains character, every shot reveals and compels. The music lends texture to a thinly designed world. And the locations are so gritty you will want to watch it with your shoes on.

The story's nothing new to the crime couples-on-the-run genre. You got the obligatory drug deal gone bad, you got your ever-popular motel o.d. girl in underwear, you got another batch of criminals who think they're about seventy percent smoother than they actually are.

But the dialog's sharp and the scenes are directed with the immediacy of vintage Friedkin or Grosbard. The kids having sex, the hideous claustrophobic gunfight, the kids arguing after she shoots up - sure, it's hard to take. But it's undeniably arresting.

I haven't seen Larry Clark's other stuff on purpose, and I had to be talked into seeing this. Unpleasant as this world is, I'm glad I visited if only to enjoy a tale well told.
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Fine flick, violent but what isn't? But high praise all around.
amesadamson-229 August 2006
First off, I am curious about the lack of credit for Lou Diamond Phillips as Jewel. I am wondering what the back-story was or is. I thought he did fine and was a bit more interesting as Jewel than in other films. At least he was trashy and trashy is good.

I read with interest in the plot summary, about the scene in the woods between Bobbie and Mel and reviewing it I didn't think it was the 'piece of resistance' that was implied...I personally see the actor Kartheiser being surprised not Bobbie, shocked and a bit amused by the improv by Woods who is very much Mel at the moment. But it registers to me as only that an actor response. Without being too critical I hope, a more mature actor might have stayed with it, but this fellow was young and inexperienced and it shows in that scene. Woods is tremendous in his role.

Griffiths I was surprised, I don't mean to sound mean...was really interesting to watch. I thought she was just perfect thru much of the film.

Clark's films always leave me a bit depressed overall, but often grateful for having seen it and that my life ain't as much of a mess as the characters portrayed.

Kudos all the way around overall.
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One of the BEST movies i've seen in a long time
Vamp197620007 January 2005
I am a huge Vincent Kartheiser fan thanks to Angel so while looking for other things he's been in I came across Another Day In Paradise. I watched the preview for it on Kids about twenty times before my friend bought it for me for Christmas. It can't be rented here thanks to too many people renting Kids for actual kids. I watched the director's cut and the commentary and I just couldn't get enough. It's now in my top five movie list. Everyone seems to think it sucked but it's more than worth renting, it's worth owning. I now have two different copies. Yes it is very graphic but it makes the film that much more realistic. I've seen worse things than they show on this film in other movies that aren't nearly this well done.
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Great movie for an excellent book
McGoNz013 May 1999
This movie may not be as ground breaking as Larry Clark's first feature film, KIDS, but is still a great one. Sure it's an overdone story, but it was done well and provided a new kind of style. The natural lighting and hand held camera really add to its ugly atmosphere. And this movie is full of ugliness, but it has its really beautiful moments too, like when the family goes to a blues bar to dance and get drunk. The only real flaw in the film is its running time; I wanted more! Also check out the novel by Eddie Little; its one of the best crime thrillers of the 90s'.
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Good effort
kenandraf10 June 2001
I love movies that do not compromise too much for the mainstream and this is one of those non mainstream films that will push your nerve buttons to the tip of your toes.Nothing original or groundbreaking here but stlll you get what you expect in a fairly entertaining way.Woods was great but the director allowed him to over act sometimes.Griffith was just cruising along for this film but she did nothing bad for the film.The two under age actors were splendid and whatever faults in their performances there were was due to the director giving the actors too much acting freedom on top of poor editing.The story and cinematography was average.The acting was above average,and the screenplay and script were below average.The editing was poorly done.Good moral/life lesson to be learned here and recomended for Griffith fans,realism fans and the other main actors fans as well for their good performances......
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A little uneven, but a tough movie and well worth the rental.
jjflynn25 December 1999
James Woods is great in the role of Mel, a junkie/alcoholic conman/thief who begins as a mentor but unconsciously becomes a surrogate father to Bobbie, a young junky. Melanie Griffith is stellar as Mel's junkie/codependent partner, who easily takes on the role of sister and surrogate mother for Rosie, Bobbie's codependent partner.

True to form for junkies and alcoholics, Woods and Griffith become the cruel and thoughtless people that drove their teenage partners to the streets in the first place. Bobbie and Rosie were the most uneven elements in the movie for me. I started to think that Bobbie (Vincent Kartheiser) was playing Holden Caulfield instead of a teenage junkie, and Rosie (Natasha Wagner) was usually just too perky to be believable -- but she is very easy to take in the role, and her dramatic performance near the end of the movie is well done.

Much violence -- verbal as well as physical -- keep the tension high, and twists like a gay crew keep some of the more traditional elements of the genre fresh.

I actually learned about the movie because I bought the Soundtrack (for "Boogaloo Down Broadway" by the Fanastic Johnny C). The soundtrack is great, and I'm glad it steered me to the film.
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Griffith's Comeback!!
melgrif9 June 1999
I had the privillege of getting to see Another Day in Paradise at the Toronto Film Festival this past September and have to tell you that it is AMAZING.

The film stars James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Gregson - Wagner and Lou Diamond Phillips. Woods and Griffith play a glammed up junkie couple who take in two street kids (Kartheiser and Wagner) and teach them to appreciate the good life which includes a lot of sex, a lot of alcohol and a lot of heroine. They teach their young apprentices to achieve big drug heists and the art of wheeling and dealing. The foursome develop a deranged sort of family until things get out of hand and it doesn't take long.

The film is set in the 1970's and Phillips plays a kick *** eccentric homosexual named Jewel. Picture the The Cleavers meet Bonnie and Clyde meet Pulp Fiction and then you get a sort of feel of the movie. James Woods as always gives a brilliant performance, but (believe it or not) it is Melanie Griffith who steals the show who is nurturing when she wants to be and in an instant she could give Linda Hamilton's character from Terminator 2, a run for her money. Vincent Kartheiser could be the next big thing and in a small role Lou Diamond Phillips is great too. The only role that I did not truly appreciate was Wagner's role, however she plays the most tragic part in the film. Reviews have been amazing and Trimark Pictures who distributes the film was robbed at the recent Oscars, however, the film is gaining cult status with avid film lovers, and has helped rectified Melanie Griffith's career.

Critics are also predicting that Another Day in Paradise will do for Melanie Griffith what Casino did for Sharon Stone. As a fan of the book by the same name by author Eddie Little, I was truly a fan of the movie and cannot wait to see it again.
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This Larry Clark film deserves far more credit
caseychaos3 November 2003
I think that this film is one of his best. James Woods eats up the screen. I recently brought the director's cut version on dvd and found it very interesting to listen to the director's commentary. Many of the scenes involving all four actors were improvised and on the spot. James Woods and Larry Calrk rarely agreed on anything and a few scenes are included which were banned in the cinema version.

This and bully are my favourite Larry Clark films. This has a raw feeling to it and the acting is very credible. Melanie Griffith deserves a mention as well, as I not usually enjoy watching her in films, but I think this part was made for her.

A very under-rated film to say the least.

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An okay flick but pointless.
=G=2 June 2001
"Another Day in Paradise" is another pointless flick about crime, drugs, and people headed for the dumpster. The film offers solid performances, a good cast, and journeyman production which doesn't work in any genre save drama. An orgy of gratuitous and pointless wantonness, the only possible dramatic redemption comes from a thin story layer which tells of the quasi-family relationship materializing between the older and younger druggie couples. A good watch for those who enjoy flicks about violent loser-types. Others might want to pass on this one.
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worth the neo-noir ride
sludgehound10 June 2004
What a dark start. Then rougher even. Wagner is neat. Direction is tight, fast and colorful. MG in bed with kid even before Demi Moore did. Good for ugly flick night. No need to get wasted since this will get you there. Given that it didn't date itself, I suspect that over time this will wear even better. Meaning it will hold up. Critics might have ignored this given Woods and MG doing low life scene, but time will tell.
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hip, gritty
david-13820 February 1999
I read the first review, and disagreed so much I had to write. This movie was not a best picture nominee by any stretch, but was exciting, thought provoking and intense. Woods, as always was excellent, and Melanie Griffith played her role to a tee. This movie invokes musings about our own role models, and the true rewards of living a morally corrupt lifestyle. The camera work was intended to be shaky - it adds to the confusion of the characters involved in a world they really don't understand. Learn something about filmmaking before you attempt to write another review.
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