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The Bottom Shelf #153


I've been doing some searching through some actors that I have often dismissed in the past for one reason or another. Robin Wright Penn is one of them. Considering some of the BS that she's going through with her soon-to-be ex-spouse who gets all the attention, I thought I'd give her some of her own. Including admitting that I've changed my mind about her a bit.

Directed by: Jeff Stanzler
Starring: Robin Wright Penn, Abdel Kechiche

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Where do I start? Man, I really love a movie that can get me to start off with questioning where I start. Do I start with the obvious great performances? Do I start with the political implications, both the subvert and overt? Do I try to compare this to other movies that I might have seen? How about I just start with the fact that a movie with a title like SORRY, HATERS didn't seem like the kind of movie that this turned out to be. I should point out that I'm not always as impressed with Wright-Penn as other people are. I could also tell you that the post 9/11 movies are starting to wear thin on me, as if there's nothing new to mine. That I'm not a New Yorker and the impact on what is going on in different parts of our nation is somewhat lost on me.

I can tell you that this movie appeared simple at first. A bereft man collecting money from his house of worship in order to pay lawyer's fees to help get his brother out of Syria ends up driving his cab to the same bank that an equally bereft woman is withdrawing money at an ATM from. She gets in and asks to be driven downtown. She watches a suburban home, assuaging the cabbie to stick around until the homeowners arrive. She then scratches up their brand new car and gets back into the cab asking to be driven home. Along the way, she feeds him a story about being a high-powered executive who had supported her painter husband until they adopted a Chinese girl and that the woman they hired to help her learn Mandarin swooped in and stole her family from underneath her.

I could continue, but that's just the start of things. The pace of the movie is meticulously relentless, although at this calculated speed. It's as if it's beating the viewer into submission, as if we're the victims of torture for prisoners who are being unduly held. Wright-Penn is frankly astonishing as the lead character who torments her Muslim cabbie, a man who torments himself in his own ways. How the two people can be so similar and yet so different, how pain can be felt in similar ways and a bond is seemingly made only to react differently on polar opposite brain waves. This is a movie that most people haven't seen because of its relentless, unabating, and unapologetic and pessimistic nature. This is a movie that more people should see because of the exact same reasons. Simply.... awesome.

Favorite Scene:

I can't think of a favorite scene because this movie honestly kept me so on edge about which direction it was going to go into next, that I just ended up relishing each of them on their own merits.

Favorite Line:

"You better not be praying. I won't have that. If you came to f*ck me, then f*ck me. If you came to kill me, then kill me."

Trivia Tidbit:

Director/writer Stanzler also worked with Alexis Arquette in 1992's JUMPIN' AT THE BONE YARD, back when Alexis was still taking male roles.

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Directed by: Michael Kalesniko
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright Penn

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There aren't really playwrights living in Los Angeles, are there? According to this film, there's at least one, and he's an acerbic British shit who loves to spout off great lines, has a wife who's almost too forgiving of his curmudgeony ways than he deserves, and hasn't had a hit in a few years. Where he once was a beloved fixture in the practical non-existence that is stage theatre on the West Coast, now he's facing his wife's need to bear a child, a play that he can't seem to write paralleling his ability to get it up to solve dilemma number one, an evil doppelganger who isn't really evil but just bizarre, running around his neighborhood claiming to be him, a single mom and daughter with cerebral palsy moving in next door and setting off his wife's maternal instinct even more, oh, annnnd..... the next door neighbor getting a dog that keeps barking during his semi-annual bout of insomnia and writer's block.

Man, I love Kenneth Branagh. I rented this movie because I was trying to explore a little more of Robin Wright Penn's work and not be as dismissive of her as I have in the past (her work here is pretty much moot, as she does a good job in a role that isn't an important one to the story as a whole) and I end up finding yet another movie where I fall even more madly in love with the Brit. I was a teenager when he first set me ablaze with his rousing performance and direction of HENRY V, but I find myself liking him more as an older man, now that he's dumped the baggage that was Helena Bonham Carter. This is his movie, riddle with more sharp lines than there are holes in Swiss cheese, and he chews up every scene that he's in, whether it's in being the chain-smoking, unrelenting prick that he'd like everyone to believe that he always is or when you see him soften slightly and learn from the slightly disabled child next door, teaching her how to dive into a pool and swim.

Let us not forget that we also get a sly smart part played to perfection by Peter Riegert, asking what time of day it is before admitting to drunkenness. There's also David Krumholtz as the gay play director who sings show tunes when feeling frustrated with how a scene is going rather than admit defeat. ("Riboflavin. Come on, say it for me.") Lynn Redgrave is practically unrecognizable as the mother of Penn's character, consumed with Alzheimer's and constantly looking at her son-in-law and saying how much he looks like her son-in-law, but not connecting the two. Jared Harris (honestly, shame on you if you don't know who he is) as the evil doppelganger who isn't really evil and is fascinating in his presence of whether he's hurtful or helpful for our lead. But the scenes with Peri Gilpin, best known as Frasier's sidekick on the same-named TV show, where she's interviewing Branagh and the two get into it really make the movie for that alone. This is a smart movie, a funny movie, a touching movie and a damn f*cking awesome movie.

Favorite Scene:

When Branagh first sits down to play tea party with the neighborhood girl. Although seeing Johnathon Schaech get punched in the nose runs a close second.

Favorite Line:

There are sooooooo many.

"Cunnilingus. I've been reading that word since I was 13 and I still can't seem to wrap my tongue around it. Wait... was that a pun, or just bad taste? Wait... that may have been another pun."


"Laughter is like jerking off without the thumping."


"Hollywood doesn't want writers, so much as secretaries with a flare for dialogue. If you want to be happy in Hollywood, be a cinematographer. Nobody knows what you're doing, so they can't screw with you."

Trivia Tidbit:

Director/writer Kalesniko also wrote the screenplay to the cinematic version of Howard Stern's book, PRIVATE PARTS.

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OK, well after SORRY, HATERS... I've actually changed my opinion more than a little bit. Time to drop the second last name, girlie.

Tags: Hollywood



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8:56PM on 03/28/2008
Remembering that I had seen Sorry, Haters at Rogers Video in the previously viewed section, then reading your review, I picked it up today for $9.99 (25% off too!) and will be watching it shortly.
Remembering that I had seen Sorry, Haters at Rogers Video in the previously viewed section, then reading your review, I picked it up today for $9.99 (25% off too!) and will be watching it shortly.
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