Writer-director Michael Caleo clearly fancies himself a David Mamet acolyte. Like Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, The Last Time's plot centers on the vicious and primal world of high-pressure sales, and the dialogue comes out fast and caustic. Michael Keaton plays Ted, the top seller at a high-tech company whose product is frequently referred to but never actually defined. Ted is lonely, angry, and mean and he runs roughshod over everyone in his office, including his toothless boss, John (Daniel Stern). Ted is openly pissed off when he's directed to help orient the new guy, Jamie (Brendan Fraser). Everything changes, however, when Jamie introduces Ted to his gorgeous fiancée, Belisa (Amber Valletta). Ted takes an immediate interest in Belisa -- and his feelings only strengthen when he discovers that Belisa and Jamie aren't entirely happy together.
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Harlan Carruthers is a blissful cowboy, all scuffed boots, aw-shucks mannerisms, and a negligent sort of sensuality. He's lightening-quick with his twin single-shot Colts and loves nothing more than riding his horse to the highest hill around and surveying the beauty of the landscape.
He's also a walking anachronism, because Down in the Valley is a modern-day tale, and the title refers to the overbuilt suburbia that is the San Fernando Valley, the land of crowded freeways and chain stores that marks the northern reaches of Los Angeles. But Harlan, played by Edward Norton, swaggers through, contentedly out of place, until he catches sight of Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood), a teenage nymph who pulls into the service station where Harlan works as she is on the way to the beach with her giggling friends. It's unclear why the group dismisses Harlan as out-of-place instead of in fashion, but Tobe is as instantly taken with him as he is with her, and he quits his job to catch his first sight of the ocean with her.
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I've never worked in food service myself. After watching Waiting, I thank my lucky stars for that. It does not appear to be an overly gratifying profession. Strenuous hours. Difficult bosses. Whining customers. Demanding environment. I have, however, been a difficult customer in the past. Waiting has woken me up to the reality of my nature, and the possible consequences I could receive. It goes without saying that my days as an obstinate customer are over.
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After a half hour of setting up the leads (Luke Wilson and Denise Richards, co-workers in a finance film which is featured endlessly in the first act to the point of mind numbness), Wilson finally asks Richards out on a date -- after a year of pining for her. Things immediately take a turn for the worse when Wilson runs his car into a crazy homeless man (Jay Lacopo), who ends up joining them for the rest of the evening. Get it? He's a third wheel! And he's kooky. How do we know he's kooky? He sings on the bus and makes hand shadows on the wall.
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A darkly black comedy of the trailer trash variety, Waking Up in Reno director Jordan Brady mostly misses with this study of working class malaise, the prison system, teen pregnancy, and closeted homosexuality. Well, Brady gets an A for effort in trying to get across such a broad collection of social messages, but his execution is merely a solid C.
Continue reading: Confessions Of An American Girl Review
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