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House of D (SE)
DVD disk
Oct 19, 2005 By: Jason Coleman
House of D (SE) order
Director:
David Duchovny

Actors:
David Duchovny
Robin Williams
Tea Leoni

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A man revisits his past, both in his memory, and then physically, in hopes of finding peace and reconciling with his wife and son. A coming of age tale that involves past, present, and future.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I must say, the description of ďWhatís it AboutĒ here sounds better then the actual film. Letís be honest, it would be easy to hack down HOUSE OF D. For all the clichťd characters, all the overtly sappy moments of love and heartbreak, hell even for the stoic and uneasy direction of star Duchovny. But for once, let me take the high road and tell you that while HOUSE OF D had all those things, it also had something that lots of other films, just as bad, donít. Potential. It had great actors - Duchovny, Robin Williams, Tea Leoni and Frank Langella, a great Director of Photography, Michael Chapman, who shot films like TAXI DRIVER and PRIMAL FEAR, and a script that, if given a really good polish, couldíve been decent. So, with all that in the HOUSE OF Dís corner, what went wrong?

Simple. A good actor does not a good director make. And in this case, Director Duchovny is, sorry bud, no Lasse Hallstrom. (Heís not even STOLEN SUMMERís Pete Jones!) The actors give, at best, wooden performances, and Duchovny doesnít seem at ease with the camera. As an actor, he is good, but with all the other actors (who were obviously looking to him for guidance) giving him nothing back, itís as though heís acting to a wall. Leoni is playing, and I mean playing, a pill popping, depressed mom. Williams could have been great as a mentally challenged man, but instead does a caricature, with freakish teeth that make him look like heís doing a character in one of his standup routines. The only performer to get out of the fire with only first degree burns is Erykah Badu, playing a feisty detention inmate. Even Duchovny canít fan out all the fire in her performance. The film looks and feels amateur, like Kevin Smith on a really bad day. But Smith has great scripts to back him up, whereas Duchovny has a shell of one (voice-over alert!), not sure what it wants to say or be. A love story? A coming of age tale? Or a film about struggling with inner demons? Well, if it is any of these three, itís up in the air. Sorry David, but three strikes and youíre out.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary (with Director David Duchovny): Even though Duchovny is well spoken, here he divulges very little key info. He talks mostly, with great detail, about locations and discusses the story, but never gives us the real meat. (Just a fair amount of ass kissing!) No discussion of how he came to write this script, if his inspiration for it was personal, or any insight into the characters. The only statement that made me perk up was when Duchovny, in a moment of honesty, says that he gave serious thought to giving this film a different title. Always go with youíre gut instinct, Dave!

Building the House of D (11:26): This one starts with everyone discussing what the movie is about, and they all sound different. Plus there was so much outpouring of fellow actor appreciation that I felt like I was watching the Oscars. But finally, a breakthrough! Duchovny reveals some of the influence for the script he wrote. Itís too little, too late, but Iíll take it!

All Access Festival Pass (14:33): For all answers (if you still want them!), skip to this Q & A with Duchovny, which takes place after a screening of the film in the Santa Barbara film festival. Here, Duchovny shows he is a very funny guy and quick witted. Just wish that he was as open and talkative about the script and itís origins in the damn commentary!

The Old Neighborhood (3:33): Duchovny comes on at the beginning and praises New York. The rest of this is merely the New York shots from the film, mixed with uplifting music. This montage may move Duchovny, but not the viewer, an embarrassing extra used for filler.

Alternate Ending (1:17): Itís hard to say which ending is better (or worse!), but this one is totally redundant. They go from the scene, where Robin Williamsí character shows us the House of D, now gone and replaced by a small garden. Title cards then explain why the House of D was taken down, with the last one saying ďwhere the prison once was, there is now a gardenĒ. Show, and then tell? Good move cutting this one!

Deleted Scenes (7:38): Two are deleted, two extended. No argument about the cuts here, but if you want to have any respect for Duchovny as a writer/director, do not watch the one entitled ďFriendly French PeopleĒ. I warned you.

There is also a Trailers (11:28) section, featuring CRASH, RIZE, THE FINAL CUT, THE PSYCHIC, THE OFF SEASON (somethingís off alright!), and AKEELAH AND THE BEE, plus four pages (why?) of DVD Credits.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
HOUSE OF D is one of those films that try to hard, although thereís nothing wrong with trying and failing. But make no mistake; HOUSE OF D does fail on all the levels that make a film like this, or any film, great. A shame. Potential is good, but just having potential, isnít enough.
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