These lapidary gems are the cinematic equivalent of artfully crafted short stories. If the late John Updike had transformed a few paragraphs of one of his New Yorker stories into a screenplay, the results would be comparable-rather like Robert Benchley's short films, but with a Dickensian sensibility. For fans of Woody Allen's great New York dramas, "Annie Hall", "Hannah and her sisters" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors" 50 to Death's quintessential NYC tales are both as claustrophobic as a closet-sized apartment and as expansive as the metropolis itself. With an infinite budget and bottomless resources, studios churn out an endless array of large-scale productions. To chose to constrain to a world no bigger than a shadow box (whether or not the decision is the result of economic exigencies) presents an extraordinary series of challenges. The remarkably talented collaborators of 50 to Death consistently hit their chosen target. Fans of clever wordplay and unself-conscious reflection on the realities of day to day life of actors should find a quiet corner, boot up the laptop and simply enjoy.
- Jul 7, 2009
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