Monday, September 21, 2009

BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN: John Krasinski stars in and adapts Wallace

Interesting without being terribly stimula-
ting, cast with a roster of must-see performers (all of whom do a fine job with what they have), and thankfully quite short (80 minutes including credits), BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN is John Krasinski's attempt to capture David Foster Wallace's book on film. Not having read the book, I will only comment on the movie-as-movie -- which does a good

job of making the male of the species seem remarkably hideous. He frets, he whines, he boasts, he betrays and his behavior is generally rude, crude and ugly. Forgive me, but... didn't we already know this -- particularly regarding man when he interacts with woman. On the other hand, if someone is just now making a movie called Brief Interviews with Impossible Women, I shall not be surprised, since -- as a species and as I have stated elsewhere on this blog: We are, all of us, fallible hypocrites.

Krasinski's film is indeed a compilation of brief interviews with men (of which the actor/director, shown two photos above, essays one major example) by a young woman, perhaps a graduate student or underling professor, nicely played by the smart and attractive Julianne Nicholson (from Flannel Pajamas and The Truth About Tully, shown above, left, with the always terrific and versatile Chris Messina). These interviews appear to be both "official" and not. Sometimes the characters are caught in the midst of their lives, simply speaking to each other. Occasionally, things get surreal, as the gloomy, institution-like walls give way to other habitats, such as one of the film's most interesting scenes -- which takes place in a posh men's room where the father of one of the interviewees works as an attendant.

Another "interview," this one in progressive sections, involves a student -- played by the fine Dominic Cooper (The History Boys) -- who has written a thesis that has not pleased his instructor (Ms Nicholson). Characters constantly weave in and out of this semi-story that coalesces well enough for us to figure out what's happening. The trouble is, what's happening -- once we work our way through the layers of artifice, psychology, irony and film technique that are affixed to the tale -- is not that dissimilar to so much else we've seen. The film's style would appear to be what makes the major difference, but it's not enough. The individual performances, however, may be.

I earlier noted that the movie offers a must-see cast, and so my last question is this: Would you bypass any film boasting the aforementioned actors plus Ben Shenkman, Timothy Hutton, Michael Cerveris, Max Minghella (above, right), Lou Taylor Pucci (above, left), Will Arnett, Bobby Cannavale, Denis O'Hare (two photos up, right), Chrisopher Meloni (two photos up, left), Josh Charles, Frankie Faison -- and this is only a partial roster -- all making the most of their brief moments and nailing their character to the wall? Right. I wouldn't, either.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, from IFC Films, is available On-Demand via your local cable provided, beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, September 23, and will be in theaters, this Friday, September 25, for a limited run.

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