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by Bill Gibron

24 Mar 2009

Filmmakers are funny people. The movies they make are a lot like their children, and as with most good parents, they are reluctant to consider said offspring anything other than perfect. Even when their big screen brat runs around shrieking like a reject and shows as much brainpower as an inbred hillbilly homunculus, they put their aesthetic arm around their pointed little profit margin and kiss the box office boo-boo until it’s all better. In the grand pantheon of blind bat guardians, Lexi Alexander has to be the most baffled of them all. Throughout the comical commentary track she shares with cinematographer Steve Gainer, she tries to convince us that Punisher: War Zone is one of the best, most faithful comic book adaptations ever. Even if she’s right (or partially so), she’s still playing Mom to one mess of a motion picture.

After his family is killed by a mob hit gone wrong, Frank Castle, also known as vigilante crime fighter The Punisher, decides to go on a one man criminal killing spree. Taking out mafia families one by one, he’s responsible for hundreds of deaths. The police turn a blind eye to much of his activity because Castle can do what they legally and Constitutionally can’t. His current target is the Russotis, including the clan’s Narcissistic lieutenant, Billy. A stand-off in a glass factory leaves Castle with undercover cop blood on his hands, and the bad guy with a face full of deadly shards.

After some botched plastic surgery, Billy becomes “Jigsaw” and devises a plan to get back at the dead officer’s family and the man who mangled him. Freeing his insane brother James (otherwise known as “Loony Bin Jim”) from the asylum, they seek out the wife and daughter of the downed agent. All the while, Castle’s guilty conscious over the killing has him trying to help the wounded widow and child. Rallying his weapons expert Linus “Microchip” Lieberman, our street savor gets the arsenal necessary to take out these monsters once and for all.

With the Marvel imprint MAX as her constant mantra, and a bubbly personality that betrays a wealth of pre-release publicity on her “happiness” with the film’s final cut, listening to Lexi Alexander wax warmly about the movie she supposed abandoned over “creative differences” is reason enough to give Punisher: War Zone a spin. This is a filmmaker who can excuse away anything, from wooden performances (“this is exactly how the character acts in the comic”) to blowing off half of an old lady’s head (“it’s great”). There is no denying the fact that if you like bullets and lots and lots of them, this version of the second-tier antihero will definitely satiate your ammunition jones. More poorly aimed artillery rounds are expended here than in an entire season of a ‘70s crime drama. Utilizing the stylized approach to atrocity made famous by Hong Kong and indie Hollywood, Alexander tries to paint a graphic novel vista loaded with pain, anger, and wall-to-wall violence. What we get instead is the firefight equivalent of a gang bang.

Granted, this is a lot better than the Thomas Jane joke that Jonathan Hensleigh made out of the material. So Lionsgate has to be thanked for getting their head out of their horror films long enough to realize a new direction was needed. But what should we make of the reports circa July of 2008 that claimed Alexander was kicked off the film for delivering a blood spattered send-up of all things gun and gun-like. Obviously, arguments over the dollar sign differences between an R and a PG-13 rating were part of the process. But nowhere on this DVD do we hear about the supposed spat. It’s important to note, however, that the disc carries over the original theatrical cut of the film. Anyone hoping to get their hands on the “Unrated” brains and body parts edition of the title will be very disappointed indeed (if one even exists, that is).

That being said, Punisher: War Zone can be called a groveling guilty pleasure. It’s not in the same league as The Spirit, or Crank, or Ultraviolet, but it’s just bugnuts enough to find a place in the less discriminating facets of your movie loving logistics. As our corpse grinding “good” guy, Ray Stevenson puts on his best Brit glower and gives the Queen’s English the heave-ho for lots of guttural grunting. He’s matched in UK jive by the paisan paltriness of Dominic West’s Jigsaw. So stereotyped he might as well be eating dinga-magoo off the back of a bearded Italian grandmother, he gives the entire Mediterranean a bad name. About the only actor surviving this surreal shoot ‘em up is Percy Wetmore himself, Doug Hutchinson - and to hear Alexander tell it, he found his inner psycho all by himself.

As for the rest of the digital package, we are once again fooled by the so-called “two disc” tag. The second DVD is reserved for a downloadable copy of the film only. Talk about a big shrug of the shoulders. Elsewhere, we get the standard EPK material, puff pieces on casting, make-up, behind the scenes scuttlebutt, and that incredibly cockeyed alternate narrative track. When you consider that Alexander and Gainer get a chance to, more or less, “set the record straight”, the rest of this material is meaningless. Still, it’s fun to hear actors who basically know better explaining the motives beyond earning a big fat paycheck.

And you have to remember that, no matter the good/bad karma, no matter the kiss and make-up quality of this presentation, no matter the lack of butts in seats or total disrespect from critics (Rotten Tomatoes has this at 25% and dropping), what matters in the end is the movie. Fans have spoken, and they seem to like that Alexander mimicked the pen and ink publication they loved so well. For those outside the comic cult, this will be some hard media mindlessness to swallow. Sure, there’s a lonely Saturday night out there somewhere just waiting for you to rent this title and take a break from using your brain, and if you’re in the right mood, you may actually enjoy yourself. But don’t be fooled by Alexander and her unrealistic mother and child reunion. This is one cinematic kid that deserves a good spanking.

by Bill Gibron

23 Mar 2009

As it continues to underperform at the box office, it’s obvious now that the entire Watchmen phenomenon was one magical adventure that few were prepared to meet head on - or even halfway. Audiences apparently want things spelled out for them in abject specifics, or they’ll simply meanderer down the Cineplex hall to see what Tyler Perry or The Rock is up to. Even worse, as a result of this lack of appreciation, some of the smarter marketing angles invested in by the filmmakers are now seeing their possible payoffs weakened by a less than excited public. This makes the DVD release of necessary supplements Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood that much more arresting. These provocative puzzle pieces, meant to complement and complete (for now) the faithful adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel vision now feel like afterthoughts. Too bad all postscripts aren’t this provocative.

Tales gets its EC Comics kick from an unexplored storyline from the book involving a mysterious writer, artists with a knack for creating the gruesome, and the infamous funny book they forge. Read by Bernie, an African American kid sitting on the New York City street corner where some of the later action in the plot takes place, “Marooned” (as the specific story is labeled) centers on a sunken schooner, the Captain (voiced by 300‘s Gerard Butler) and his crew left for dead. Washing up on a deserted island, our delirious sailor tries to return to his home of Davidstown. He’s convinced the sinister Black Freighter is headed there, bloodthirsty ghost pirates bent on taking the entire village - including the Captain’s wife and daughters - to Hell. Fashioning a raft made of the bloated corpses of the dead, he traverses dangerous seas. Once he arrives back home however, the horror final begins.

On the other hand, Under the Hood, a memoir written by original Nite Owl Hollis Mason, has been made over into a 60 Minutes like news special (complete with era appropriate commercials). In the book, we saw excerpts of the actual text. Here, a typical talking head named Larry Culpeper hosts The Culpeper Minute. For this 10 year retrospective, we are whisked back to 1975, before the Keene Act, before masks were outlawed, before the events in Watchmen literally change the fate of the entire world. In a series of exclusive interviews and archival footage flashbacks, Culpeper talks to Mason, original Silk Spectre Sally Jupiter, and a few more fringe characters from the surreal subtextual history of the avengers. We discover links to the McCarthy hearings, the hints at Ms. Jupiter’s assault at the hands of the Comedian, and lots of mea culpas from agent (and former husband to Silk herself), Laurence Schexnayder.

Like Alice tumbling head over heels deeper and deeper into her own special rabbit hole, Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood are destined to overfeed a fanbase already rabid for anything Watchmen related. For them, this is the final visual epiphany, the moment when the promise Zack Snyder exhibited all throughout the feature film is fully realized and expanded. Granted, the “visionary” director is not on hand to helm either project, so it goes without saying that there’s some palpable pizzazz missing. But for the most part, this daunting double feature reminds us why Moore and Gibbons are so revered, and why so few outside their skewed sphere of influence “get” their incredible accomplishment.

Indeed, to the outsider looking in, Black Freighter will feel like a failed episode of Tales from the Crypt, The Animated Series, while Hood will have little relevance if any. They’ll question the importance of these supposedly significant parts and wonder why they weren’t given a place somewhere within the features already daunting two hour plus running time. For some, the allure of Black Freighter‘s Grand Guignol anime take will be too much to take. Others will see the stilted nature of Mason, Jupiter and the others and argue that everything about Watchmen plays that way. What this means of course is that the doubters are simply jealous for being left out of the creative clique. When this material works - and it does so in any medium - it’s mesmerizing to behold.

The best moments in Black Freighter come toward the middle, when the Captain’s madness finds him talking to the decomposing head of his shipmate Ripley. As voiced by the always recognizable Jared Harris, the exchange sparkles with sinister allure. Equally endemic are the times when Hood traces the rise and rapid stardom of the original hooded crusaders. While the footage may not look “found” enough, it’s great to see these often overlooked characters getting some necessary live action due. Indeed, those suggesting that Snyder and company helm a prequel dealing with the original Minutemen are totally misguided. As Hood illustrates, there really not much more to it than a 30 minute overview can’t cover.

Sure, there’s some material missing. The lesbian inspired hate crime death of Silhouette is never even mentioned, while Dollar Bill’s demise is given equally short shrift. Black Freighter is far more true to its source, since there’s not much more to Moore and Gibbons tie-in than narration and nasty action. What would have been nice, however, is a nod to the whole underlying intrigue involving author Max Shea and artists Joe Orlando and Walt Feinberg. Their subplot helps explain Ozymandias’ plot, as well as the reasons he resorts to the scheme he eventually follows. Maybe it was left out since the movie changed the way in which the last act Apocalypse occurs. After all - no squid, no need for Shea and the gang.

As a DVD, Tales of the Black Freighter feels like a sensational stopgap between the present and the future fleshed out digital package that will surely follow Watchmen‘s release on the home video format. The only intriguing bonus feature is a fine making-of that manages to explain both the creation of these narrative complements as well as why they are important to the overall storyline. Certainly, more could have been done to make this a must-own stand alone item. Perhaps a collection of other missing elements from the novel itself, or a catalog of items from Veidt Industries (also hinted at in the book) could have been included. Of course, once the super colossal X disc special editions come out, complete with everything you ever wanted to know about Watchmen and its various interconnected facets, these qualms may be appeased.

Still, one has to wonder why Watchmen wasn’t more popular? Granted, it’s a wholly insular experience, but then again, isn’t any superhero effort? After all, it was more than just fans of a certain caped crusader that drove dollars to The Dark Knight‘s eventual box office supremacy. So apparently, this long held holy grail of comic book classicism just didn’t appeal to the mainstream loving masses - and that’s too bad. Zack Snyder’s film is a fascinating, flawed masterwork, and these ingenious add-ons make the experience all the more meaningful. If they reach beyond the believers, great. If not, the reasons why will remain a motion picture mystery for decades to come.

by Bill Gibron

22 Mar 2009

The sailor on shore leave - is there another war-time tenet as stereotypical and suspect as that. We all understand the basics of those enlisted in the Naval Corps.: long months at sea, limited sexual stimulation, a girl in every port, a tattoo to commemorate said conquests, and a mouth as dirty as a grease covered galley floor. Much has changed about the mariner returning home after a taste of battle. No longer are we witness to antiquated On The Town hijinx or, in reverse post modern journeys into perfunctory private Hells ala The Last Detail. No, in the hands of Australian novice Matthew Newton, our macho midshipmen have more on their plate then sewing a few wild oats. Over the course of one fateful night, our Three Blind Mice will end up making decisions that will redefine their lives forever.

When we first meet Sam, Dean, and Harry, they are checking into an Ozzie hotel for the night. Their plans are simple - freshen up, hit the town, pull some birds, and be back in time to ship out in the morning. Yes, after an already overlong tour of duty in the Middle East, the boys are returning in relatively short order. This makes Sam very nervous. Horrifically abused as part of a shipboard standoff gone horrible wrong, he’s actually thinking about going AWOL. Yet by doing so, he realizes he will disappoint his mom and his aging grandfather. As the trio take in a poker game at a local pizzeria, Sam befriends a flirtatious waitress named Emma. She doesn’t understand all the duties and dilemmas facing the young cadet. She just thinks a man in a uniform is sexy. Later on, during a dinner with his girlfriend’s parents, Dean will deliver some stunning news.

Like a younger, hipper Ricky Gervais, Matthew Newton comes across as an odd choice to make a subtle, character driven drama. His entire personality, wrapped up effortlessly in his performance as the dashing and devious Harry, seems better suited for something hilarious, not heartfelt, and occasionally, horrifying. Yet that’s the kind of creative deception the 32 year old uses to keep Three Blind Mice from becoming just another worn out ‘War is Hell’ epistle. True, the tale he chooses to tell as writer, director, and star has been done dozens of times before, the same simmering secrets coming forward at the usual inopportune times, but thanks to the cultural backdrop (Australia) and the interesting choices made by his cast, we gladly relish in the recognizability. This is indeed a talky trip through a group of individual’s inner demons, but Newton makes the journey engaging and quite effective.

Of the three male leads, Harry is clearly the center. He is the good time guy who will instantly sell you down the river once his shtick has been uncovered. We learn this during a fascinating card game where our sailors act like simps to milk locals out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars. Looking lax and nonchalant, Harry keeps the table off center by offering unusual tales of military ethos and battle weariness. When one of his marks demands to know his technique, the fool’s façade drops, and suddenly we see the manipulation behind the military man. Something similar happens to Dean when he decides to reveal what really happened to Sam during a critical night onboard ship. It’s the concept of menace behind the mask that fuels Three Blind Mice‘s fascination.

The trouble for some will come from Sam, the newly minted officer with a back full of scars to indicate his troubled professional past. As essayed with calm cowardice by Ewen Leslie, we’re not sure whether we should feel sorry for this victim or cringe at the reasons for his obvious outcast state. During a definitive moment where he calls his mother to explain his plans, the actor literally falls apart before our eyes. His interactions with Emma aren’t much better. He’s never comfortable in his skin, incapable of taking the numerous lustful hints from his red-headed pick-up. As the movie meanders toward its decisions and denouements, we wonder if Newton has more up his sleeve. The answer, oddly enough, is as unusual as the film itself.

Still, there remains an arm’s length quality that comes with such a slow, layered reveal. While our mainstream addled brain might scream for a quicker uncovering of the truth, Newton is not out to please the faithful. Instead, he wants viewers to think, to sit back within the confines of this complex situation and struggle to decipher which side you stand on. Are you part of Sam and his painful process of denial? Or do you side with Harry and Dean, willing to follow demented directives in order to maintain station? Of course, such questions have also plagued the military movie since cinematic soldiers first took up arms. But Three Blind Mice reminds us that men are typically at the center of such quandaries, and their very humanity make the resolution tricky - and sometimes, terrifying.

As a presence both behind and in front of the camera, it’s clear that Matthew Newton has a bright and brilliant future ahead in film. His demeanor may seem like he takes nothing very serious, but his sense of story, character, narrative drive, and plot dynamics indicate otherwise. Three Blind Mice is a very cautious, often serious clash between the truth and a lie, the cover-up and the conspiracy that required the cabal in the first place. By the end, nothing has really changed. Each man has simply certified his place in the precarious pecking order that is existence - especially in the Navy. Gone are the dates with golden hearted hooker. Missing are the well-meaning bar fights were steam is let off before the real killing occurs. In their place are mental challenges and undeniable moral predicaments. Oddly enough, in Newton’s world, the resolution is more harmful than any tour of duty.

by Bill Gibron

22 Mar 2009

One of the most valuable aspects of foreign film is getting to see the world - and the motion picture equivalent of same - through a vastly different set of cinematic lenses. From cultural disparities to sentiments of sovereignty, the international director draws from numerous sources to make his celluloid statement, and unlike his Hollywood compatriots, there’s usually not a predetermined demographic directly responsible for the narrative’s nuances. That’s why, when filmmakers from outside the US start mimicking the movie provenance that helped create and cement the artform, the translation is usually fairly evocative. And in the case of Zift, it’s made more interesting by the nation of origin. While not known for its endemic art, Bulgaria provides the stunning back drop for this neo-noir experiment.

After spending several decades in prison for a murder he did not commit, “the Moth” is finally being released. While behind bars, he’s embraced the Communist coup that’s overtaken his country, even going to far as to organize the inmates. When he gets out, he’s picked up by a stern looking military attaché who takes him directly to a public bath. There, he meets up with an old nemesis, former street hood turned important Party Member Slug. The vile villain wants to know where Moth hid a valuable diamond. All our hero wants is to break free and be with his ex-girlfriend (and mother of his now dead son) Ada. As he searches for his former lover all over the city, Slug still wants his information. Before he knows it, Moth’s desires and those of the man making his life miserable intersect - and as usual, there’s a woman involved…Moth’s woman.

If it didn’t have such an evocative monochrome set-up, if it failed to fully realize the various cinematic references and homage it houses, Zift would be a dull, derivative mess. It would resemble a hundred other cramped crime stories where atmosphere and mood are supposed to substitute for characterization and causality. We’d find ourselves lost in a country wholly unfamiliar to ours, while wondering why certain military and authoritarian subtexts are being inserted into the film. But thanks to the visual flair of director Javor Gardev, and the undeniable invention he brings to this tale, what could have been a tired, typical thriller becomes a remarkable bit of engaging eye candy. The story may be simple, and the resolution revealed early and often, but we really don’t mind the plot imperfections. It’s the journey here that’s worth the effort.

Gardev works us through many of the more ambiguous elements. The Moth is viewed as a capable local hood, but yet spends most of his time in prison befriending an one-eyed thief. There are clear signs of our hero’s Communist leanings (he gets out early because of his initiatives in jail), yet that facet flies out the window the minute the torture begins. Our main scoundrel - the corporeal criminal Slug - is not so much a threat as an unwelcome obstacle our hero must overcome. There’s also an inference that everything Moth does is designed to feed his ultimate goal - to get out of Bulgaria and set up a sweet life in the Tropics somewhere. Indeed, you could almost argue that Moth’s entire raison d’etra is centered around getting out of prison, finding his former gal pal, making up with her, and then hopping a train out of town.

Naturally, things get in the way, and part of Zift‘s pleasure is watching these unusual obstructions come and go. Gardev spends inordinately large amounts of time on people’s faces, watching them as they tell their tall tales about septic tank revenge, or mangled marital fidelity. These pieces of significant suplot folklore, meant to mirror the action onscreen with their surreal sense of moral right and wrong, are part of this picture’s many pleasures. Just hearing the actors spin the yarns creates a kind of climate where the insane visual histrionics play perfectly. This is one director who has clearly absorbed all the iconic influences around him. From Hong Kong action to American criminal mythos, Zift seems to have it all.

And then there are the native nuances, the foreign touches that stay with us long after the film has ended. One is the title treat itself, a black strap gum that Moth loves to chew. The word can also mean the mortar used to hold bricks and stone together (as in the newly fashioned public square in the middle of the empiric capital city), or slang for shit. In this case, both Gardev and his characters, taken from Vladislav Todorov’s novel, represent them all. In the best noir tradition, no one is pure here. Everyone has motives that keep them mired in misery and filth. Even Ada, now working as a singer in an upscale nightclub, allows herself to be kept by important Communist officials. In addition, the bond between Moth, his gal, and the slimy Slug is unquestionable. Once their petty theft went from a heist to a homicide, all three share a cement-like status.

What we wind up with is a whodunit and why that’s as joyful in the discovery as it is borderline bumbling in its conclusion. Gardev has to be careful in his reveals, the D.O.A. dynamic at play (Moth was poisoned before going on his search) threatening to take our attention away from the clues. Thanks to some ingenuous flashbacks, a telling look or two, and a last moment disclosure that clarifies the motives of everyone involved, Zift moves beyond the basics to work its way toward the classic. That it doesn’t quite get there is not the fault of anyone involved. From cast to crew, there is too much talent in this movie to marginalize its effectiveness. No, what takes Zift down a peg or two is its obviously newfound familiarity. For those outside the source, this will all seem very novel. For those on the inside, it’s imaginative imitation - which we all know is the sincerest, and in this case, most meaningful form of flattery. 

by Bill Gibron

21 Mar 2009

The disconnect between two people from similar cultural backgrounds. The pain of relationships breaking up and/or never happening. The wonders of a city lost in a strident class crisis. A single day of sex, drugs, soul searching, and music. This is the universe of Micah, the “second best” aquarium technician in all of San Francisco. A one night stand at a party has turned him from a fiery community activist and racial advocate to a combination hopeless romantic and unbearable cynic. The object of his (dis)affections is Joanne, the enigmatic gal pal of a white museum curator who appears privileged and acts passé. Together, they spend an eye-opening Sunday trying to piece together each other’s past while avoiding any chance at a future togetherness. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and definitely not the Medicine for Melancholy each person appears to need.

As plotlines go, this intriguing title really has little to offer. Micah and Joanne wake from a posh party, intersect throughout the next 36 hours, and then resolve their issues as only two still-strangers can. Somewhere near the back end of the last act, writer/director Barry Jenkins tosses in a random rally of local residents, their call to arms over Bay area rent controls and property price hikes adding fuel to the fires our leads have already lit. There’s also a sequence near the finale where Micah melts down the indie scene into a series of stereotypical human and sonic maxims. But for the rest of the time, Medicine for Melancholy is a tempting tone poem that never really breaks out into the kind of compelling free verse that would indicate something definitive or dramatic. Instead, it takes its cues from its characters and meanders around a little before slowly fading away.

By using San Francisco as a vital aspect to the story, Jenkins injects a great deal of local color into his mostly monochrome visuals. In fact, he purposely desaturates the print so that the clear contrasts between our two wannabe lovers remain ambiguous and blurred. We visit the Museum of African Diaspora, as well as a gorgeous urban art project consisting of manmade waterfalls and politicized slogans. Jenkins doesn’t do a lot outside of this, painting his pliable travelogues and letting the camera get in too close once Micah and Jo start interacting. One has to credit the filmmaker for avoiding certain formulaic pitfalls. He doesn’t mandate that his temporary paramours quip precociously, or take their emotions to some syrupy level of RomCom ridiculousness. Instead, this is a slice of life carved as carefully and considerately as the delicate balance demonstrated between the couple.

But there are troubles here, problems that pop up like unwanted extras in a crowd scene and keep us from caring too much for anything Micah or Jo have to offer. When dissecting the concept of “interracial” romance, our hero fails to recognize his own obvious attraction to women of light skin tone (in an aside, we see a MySpace post featuring a clearly Caucasian ex). Jo is the perfect antithesis of what he rants about - porcelain features hinting at a mixed lineage that goes totally unmentioned. In fact, the whole “black is black” element doesn’t get a lot of explanation. Instead, Jenkins plays it like a fact when all it really stands as is an assertion. Before long, the debate starts to turn circular and then careless. Because they’re so closed mouthed, Medicine for Melancholy‘s leads create just as much confusion as the man putting the half-completed thoughts in their mouths.

And then there’s the issue of chemistry. Actors Wyatt Cenac and Tracey Heggins are model agency apropos for their parts, each one exuding the kind of iconoclastic radiance the simply story requires. But there’s no sizzle between them, no inherent need for them to be together. Indeed, much of the time, Jo seems to simply be playing Micah for a weekend reprieve from her stuffy, sterile life - and that would be fine, as long as we find the pair perfectly matched. But beyond the exterior, our couple trades in cross-purposes. He’s earthy without being totally bohemian. She’s cultivated without becoming a sculpture. Still, we keep waiting for the moment when their combination brings on the heat. Sadly, it never comes.

Indeed, many in the mainstream audience will look at this obviously independent effort and wonder why the She’s Gotta Have It era Spike Lee doesn’t sue. Others will find it almost impossible to overcome the obstacles of limited plotline, unclear characterization, and dramatic pauses large enough to drive a few dozen cable cars through. San Francisco obviously has many, many problems regarding the gentrification of neighborhoods, and ill-prepared viewers would be carping like crazy had Medicine for Melancholy turned into some preachy social statement. But there’s such a thing as being too inconspicuous. Jenkins needed to turn down the ambience and amplify the action, if only a little. And no, montages of his cast dancing to various underground poptones doesn’t count.

It’s been said that the title is taken from a 1959 Ray Bradbury anthology. That would make sense, considering the science fiction author once said that, in order to create a literary fiction, all you had to do was “find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her around all day long.” That describes Medicine for Melancholy perfectly. Jenkins obviously believes that he’s fostered personalities so complex and personable that we’ll gladly track them as they explore the outer reaches of Northern California and the inner areas of their own identities. Sometimes, he’s absolutely right. At other instances, we stand around like strangers at friend’s function and pray for our chance to exit. This is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. But there’s really not enough here to remain memorable.

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