Friday, April 21, 2006

Movies opening this week

Blame a nasty stomach virus for the lack of posts this past week, and the fact that I've seen essentially none of the new movies. Normal posting should resume shortly.

Standing Still (Jon Abrahams, Aaron Stanford, Melissa Sagemiller, Mena Suvari, Amy Adams, dir. Matthew Cole Weiss)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm honestly surprised that this movie has actually made it into theaters. I saw it almost a year ago at CineVegas in 2005, and was initially excited about it, because it was the first feature from the local production company Insomnia Entertainment, which is the first production company in Vegas with any kind of serious money behind it (it's backed by Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, the hotshot former owners of the Golden Nugget who were the subjects of the short-lived reality show The Casino). I was impressed that they had gotten some semi-recognizable stars for their debut, and the plot of this film - a group of twentysomething friends reconnecting as two of them prepare to get married - seemed right up my alley. So I was disappointed that it turned out to be such a weak effort and, worst of all, seemingly unprofessional, which was surprising given the money that went into it and some of the names involved. In my CineVegas review, I predicted it would end up going straight to video.

Well, here it is opening in limited release, and I imagine it's not going to be expanding very wide. I'm sure the only reason it's playing in Vegas at all is because of Insomnia's influence behind the scenes. It's just not a very good movie, but it's not nearly as bad as the company's second feature, Vegas Baby, which I also saw at CineVegas last year. That one was a complete embarrassment and totally incompetent and pathetic, and it's indeed going straight to video, with the title changed to the even more generic Bachelor Party Vegas. Insomnia, who announced all sorts of grand plans when they first started, seem to be in limbo, which isn't surprising given how badly their first efforts stumbled and how unprofessionally they seem to be running their company. After I panned their films at CineVegas, I got an expletive-filled email from the company's president, Trent Othick, who accused me of being jealous of his success, assured me that both of his movies were going to get major distribution and quite literally told me to go fuck myself. This from the allegedly powerful and connected president of a film production company to a film critic at a lowly alt-weekly - he asserted that I had absolutely no credibility in Hollywood, but took the time to write me outraged emails in response to my "insignificant" reviews. I'm sure Jerry Bruckheimer is up late at night harassing every critic who didn't like one of his $300 million-grossing action movies.

So it saddens me, really, to see Insomnia fail like this, even if I get a certain pleasure from knowing that such a genuine asshole as Trent Othick is doing poorly. I really hoped that this could be the start of a real, sustainable film industry in Vegas, producing something of a higher caliber than the no budget crap that most local filmmakers turn out. Sadly, it was still crap, just with a larger budget. Limited release

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