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One Hour Photo
DVD disk
10.07.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
One Hour Photo order
Director:
Mark Romanek

Actors:
Robin Williams
Connie Nielsen
Michael Vartan

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A creepy, lonely photo shop employee (Williams) becomes obsessed with a family whose pics he's been developing for years and who he's literally seen grown up. When events both in his life and his adopted family's take a turn for the worst, his obsession takes a vicious turn toward potential disaster.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
You can count me among those who think Robin Williams' act has been growing a bit (a lot) thin over the past decade. His goofing around, "funny" faces, lackluster impressions and repetitive jokes have made me quite weary and suspicious of him. You can also count me among those who think that two of his latest performances, ONE HOUR PHOTO being one and INSOMNIA, being the other, have been nothing short of thrilling and captivating. In short, the man plays a great nutcase and he surpasses himself as Sy Parrish, a loner who works in a large store and who takes his job (and his customers) at heart. With Williams creating a believable and discomforting focus for the film, one who's as dangerous as he is pitiful, it was up to his supporting cast to play up to him and to make credible victims who at once fall for his act and who also seem to acknowledge a certain unease with him. The "stalkees" in question here are the statuesque Connie Nielsen and pretty boy Michael Vartan, as well as their son Jake, played aptly by a young fellow named Dylan Smith.

But the clincher, as far as I'm concerned, was the inimitable Gary Cole, seemingly reprising his wonderful character from OFFICE SPACE, but with a much more serious twist. Eriq La Salle and Clark Gregg also punched their clocks in convincing fashion as two detectives trying to nab themselves a crackpot. The big winner though, and one who deserves a pretty big high-five for this effort, is Mark Romanek who gives his feature film debut a perfect, sanitized look that contrasts his madcap character in a very appropriate manner. Try to imagine row after row of perfectly stacked cereal boxes, shelves stocked to the top with precision aligned stuffed toys, white floors with nary a dust bunny on them and a film that looks like it was shot in an IKEA showroom. Tacky, you say? Not at all, and this style gives the film added creepiness which matches Williams' to the tee and gives viewers and all around sick feeling, not only of dealing with a headcase, but of dealing with a headcase on his own ground and unfamiliar territory. All this and plenty more adds up to a terrifying, yet entertaining, way to spend an hour and a half.
THE EXTRAS
The first feature is a full length audio commentary featuring director Mark Romanek and Robin Williams. Both men are quite subdued but manage to go on with very good flow and convey lots of info about the shoot, the sets, the actors, the script and more as well as distributing some pretty fun anecdotes from the filming. As far as commentary tracks go, this is bang-on for the kind of stuff I like to hear: people taking about a film without trying to be more entertaining than the movie itself. The next stop on the crazy train is a 15-minute long feature entitled The Making of One Hour Photo. Aside from learning that Mark Romanek would be a dead ringer for Jean Reno if the latter packed away a couple more cheeseburgers, there was really nothing of value on this and it was pretty much your run-of-the-mill fluff piece about the film. Nothing you won't catch on late night TV when Williams releases another big film.

Speaking of late night TV, The Charlie Rose Show hosted both Williams and Romanek to talk about this film and that's what you'll find next on the special features menu. Charlie Rose, who could put that watermelon-thrower Larry King in his back pocket any day of the week and twice on Sunday, leads a pretty interesting discussion about the beginnings of the story, Williams' involvement and pretty much anything else related to the film. We see Williams revert to his usual persona a bit, flying off the handle and running a couple of jokes into the ground. Like I said before though, the discussion is interesting, but it's nothing you can't catch on Charlie Rose reruns, so take it for what it's worth.

The last pic on this roll is Sundance: Anatomy of a Scene, made by the Sundance Channel. I've seen these on a couple of DVD's and although much of it is pretty much film school stuff (like I know...), it's pretty neat to look at for the average jerk (that, I know). Basically, the Sundance Channel takes half an hour to dissect a particular scene from the movie in every possible way. The good part is that they don't limit their observation to the technical aspects of the scene, but also to the meaning it has in the film and to the characters and the script. It does go into detail though about sets, costumes, lighting, music and everything else as well, but the more intangible parts are what I like most.

The Theatrical Trailer and three TV Spots are also part of the mix.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This film gave me some serious heebie-jeebies and I had a good time watching it the whole time running. Williams is simply fantastic, well surrounded and the film is a pleasure to the eyes. Good premise and good execution make Jack a fun movie? In this case, definitely. Strong rental with a good recommendation to buy.
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