Sunday, May 9, 2010

Joe Leonard's HOW I GOT LOST, multi small-fest winner, goes straight-to-DVD

With the bailing-out-of-jail of one pal by another, writer/
director Joe Leonard begins his little independent film HOW I GOT LOST, which encompasses a lot of genres and even more subjects: the buddy movie, the road movie, 9/11, daddy issues, a funeral, baseball, babies, sex, and the northeast blackout of 2003. And the film only runs about 80 minutes (plus lengthy credits).

Mr. Leonard, shown at right, gives us some decent dialog that sounds real enough and occasionally offers a line that resonates: "All my life I've done things the right way, and I thought that the rest would just happen." Although, when one character states rather conclusively that "Plans are what fucked us up in the first place," your red flag about the intelligence of that particular fellow flies on high alert.

Leonard's cast delivers his dialog well, too: Aaron Stanford (shown at right, above and below), Jacob Fishel (shown at left, above and below), Rosemarie DeWitt and Nicole Vicius all do a fine job of bringing their characters as much to life as is possible. What the filmmaker does not yet seem to possess is the ability to write dialog/scenes that continue long enough to allow his characters to grow to some kind of fruition. Scene after scene is cut short before anything much can happen or an interesting situation can be explored in any depth.

Take the morning-after-sex conversation between two characters whom we actually like and might hope for something positive between. "Are you stuck on somebody?" she asks. "I think so; I don't know," he replies. "Me, too," she tells him. And that's all we get. Ever. This sort of screenwriting leaves the heavy-work of character-building almost exclusively to the actors on board. And though we may like them and their work, and they certainly do their best to be believable here, you can't make a whole lot out of too little, which is what they must do.

Ms Vicius, as the more-of-less femme fatale, simply plays and preys (and is quite, quite gorgeous!), while Ms DeWitt (shown above, from Rachel Getting Married and The Wedding Weekend), so good in just about anything she tackles, is saddled here with an infant about whom (Who's the dad?  Is she single mother?  What's going on?) we learn nothing.  Now, TrustMovies is all for not piling on the exposition, but surely, since we like this character so much, we might be allowed to discover a little about her.  Nope.

And the guys?  So enormously different in attitude, behavior, and every other way that counts are these two that all you can wonder, by the time the movie ends, is how they ever became friends -- let alone lasted more than a few days.  (The baseball pitcher -- played by Jonathan Miller, above -- seems more believable in his way than does the relationship between Stanford and Fishel.  Miller just has to pitch: He does -- and does it well.)  Leonard wants to address the concerns of youth  (the 20s-heading-into-the-30s crowd) who are about to confront success & failure, commitment & change.  This is commendable, and so his next time out, I hope he'll be able to give us deeper, fuller characters and situations instead of a movie that leaves us feeling little more than a shrug.

You can find How I Got Lost, which make its DVDebut this Tuesday, May 11, for purchase at its official web site, or via Amazon.  It's also for rent at Netflix, Blockbuster and maybe even some of the smaller chains/stores.

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