Darren Goldberg

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The Art of Getting By Review


Weak
Mopey, style-free filmmaking undermines what might have been an engaging coming-of-age movie. The bright cast holds our interest, but the corny, too-cute plot will only be of interest to pre-teen girls.

In his senior year at a Manhattan prep school, George (Highmore) can't muster up the energy to do his schoolwork. A bright kid with serious artistic talent, he's in trouble with the principal (Underwood) for failing his classes. He's also uninterested in communicating with his mother (Wilson) or stepdad (Robards). The class' hot bad girl Sally (Roberts) takes an interest in him, but he can't do much more than follow her around, even when his mentor painter (Angarano) urges him to make a move.

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The Cake Eaters Review


Grim
The Cake Eaters reminds me of what an IFC Original Soap Opera might look like. All of the characters are loosely interconnected in some non-specific small-town setting, and the individual stories so deliberately exist on separate planes that the film can never possibly attain coherence. It is episodic, melodramatic, and oddly tepid -- all of the emotions seem propelled by the disingenuous desire to make an Enlightening Indie Drama. Surely the film wants to be a thoughtful, profound emo-weepie, but it contains all the insight of a Hallmark Movie of the Week.

The film tells the very simple story of how three generations of men deal with the death of one woman, their mother (for two) and wife (for one). Aaron Stanford is the twentysomething slacker who works in a high school cafeteria and is very protective of his deceased mom. Bruce Dern plays the aging father who carries on a long-term affair with a local shopkeeper (Elizabeth Ashley). Jayce Bartok is the elder son, a struggling musician who returns home when he hears the sad news, apparently just to look morose as he walks around town.

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Cry Funny Happy Review


OK
For his feature debut, director Sam Neave takes the filmmaking approach of Mike Leigh, peppers it with a dash of John Cassavetes, mixes in six characters of varying tics and troubles, and gets a boiling pot of humor, reality and tasty conflict.

Cry Funny Happy, a 2003 Sundance feature and a recent entry in the 2003 Independent Film Festival of Boston, displays Neave's deft feel for both the power and idiocy of human conversation. However, he's not interested in the witty, refined banter of say, a Woody Allen film - instead, Neave gives us a voyeuristic look at the nitty gritty, the stuff people say when they don't have a smart script to fall back on.

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Darren Goldberg

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