Anne Chaisson

Anne Chaisson

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Diggers Review


Weak
Listless clam diggers in 1970s Long Island... sounds like a recipe for comedy, right?

I'm not sure what director Katherine Dieckmann (best known as an R.E.M. video director) thought she was grabbing hold of here, but this melodrama (tinged with cheap gags) is all atmosphere, broad Lawn Guyland accents, and jokes at the expense of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Even the "crying Indian" makes an appearance.

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P.S. Review


Good
Dylan Kidd's first film, Roger Dodger, conquered the rarified nation of two-character drama, anchored by Kidd's punchy dialogue and Campbell Scott's commanding lead performance. Kidd's follow-up, P.S., suggests he's not quite ready to expand. Not that this is a bad thing. Nor does Kidd actually repeat himself -- as there are a good deal more than two important characters in P.S., and that's the problem.

The two we care about are Louise (Laura Linney) and F. Scott (Topher Grace), an admissions officer at Columbia University and a prospective student, respectively. Their relationship hangs on a fascinatingly awkward hook: F. Scott is the spitting image of Louise's long-ago first love (now deceased): in body, mind, soul, and some other ways that are even harder to fake, like handwriting. Louise, a lonely divorcee, latches onto F. Scott's eerie familiarity. F. Scott, as a young man, latches onto Louise's cautious older-woman hotness.

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Roger Dodger Review


OK
There's a certain kind of movie that I haven't heard a name for but its practitioners are the likes of Woody Allen, John Cassavetes, James Toback, and now Dylan Kidd, the writer/director of Roger Dodger. In their works, plot is an afterthought. The cinematography is at best atmospheric, and at worst, functional. The hearts of these films lie in dialogue, and the more the characters talk, the more they reveal, and the deeper we get into the mystery of who they are and why. We're interested as long as the characters keep talking.

The "Roger Dodger" here (Campbell Scott) does a whole lot of it. He's a mid-30s advertising copywriter in Manhattan, one of those guys who's always wearing a suit and smoking aggressively even though his job and lifestyle demand neither. Roger spends his lunch hours entertaining his colleagues with mildly aggressive (and brilliantly written) speeches about men and women and their evolutionary destiny and his nights trying to pull the same routine on women in bars. His refrain is that men work extraordinarily hard for sex because deep down they know it's just a matter of a few generations until they become unnecessary for procreation. He then proves his own case by saddling up to a woman and speechifying on how he's got her all figured out. Roger, of course, doesn't realize that your friends let you prattle on because they like you and are willing to indulge. Strangers just think you're being rude. Or maybe Roger does realize it, which is even creepier.

Continue reading: Roger Dodger Review

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