Full Frontal (2002)
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Title (Brazil): `Full Frontal'
It might have worked had we spent more time in the company of the interesting peripheral characters (the theatrical Hitler, Gus the producer) than listening to the self-absorbed droning of the others. Film students will probably love it.
What was Terence Stamp doing there?
A mix of troubled characters related all to the movie business create a confused and complicated web of feelings, relationships, weird behaviors and "rendevouz" that are let to almost pure improvisation by the director, and in retrospective it sounds very interesting but we haven't seen many movies with such a proposal maybe not because nobody has thought about it but because it's very hard to make it successful and achieve a fine piece of work. In this case I don't think that the weight of Oscars and fresh success help that much in accomplishing that nice piece of work. A very good and daring idea where all the actors were abandon to their own choices in make up, dressing and craft supplies. Niece piece of work... for the actors and crew who make it, in their own private screening or party, not for us who felt it was a waste of time and my $1 that cost renting it. There is some arrogant smell in the air that I felt heavily since I saw for the first time Mr. Soderbergh old fashion sort of feminine style glasses frames and it was strongly confirmed by watching this movie.
I don't remember in recent years a movie where I start watching the running time as early as I started with this movie: when it ran for 15 min I was already impatient, and for a good 1 hour or so I felt uncomfortable for not knowing anything of what was happening and not connecting but a couple of dots in the whole plot. Maybe that was the precise goal of Soderbergh, don't know. I felt bored watching a huge bunch of nonsense which might have make sense but at the end it didn't. Brad Pitt was quite right at the end: I don't know who did it. We strongly hope there's better to come from Soderbergh.
The great thing is how quiet this movie is. Movies are so noisy these days, mostly in order to numb people's mind to hide the fact they don't have anything more than visuals, watching FULL FRONTAL was like a cinematic vacation.
Beautifully shot, clever and at times engrossing (the Catherine keener storyline was my favorite). It's sad to see few people "got " this film.
The film features a film within the film, and seems to feature flashbacks to real life moments that inspired the fictional moments in the film. But it becomes apparent that the stories are running on parallel lines and really don't relate. So? The message seems to be that real life is reel life is real life is reel life, and so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah. Nothing new there. So much fuss over such little inspiration.
The film seems to be an experimental film of the sort that any director with Soderberg's success would have outgrown years ago. Calling in all of his big-star buddies to make guest appearances only magnifies the sheer haplessness of the mess. Had he used unknown actors, perhaps the film would have seemed sufficiently obscure to rate as an oddity. As is, the film seems to be little more than a bunch of friends having a party, getting properly intoxicated and then breaking out the home video camera. Like most such slapdash movies, I'm sure it is an embarrassment to all involved.
I spent a lot of time on this, because I respect Soderbergh - not the sellout Hollywood dummy Soderbergh who works with Julia, but the film-loving Soderbergh that crafts wonderful little essays on film in film like `Sex, Lies` and `Limey.' This was to be a long-awaited reward, the fruit of all the compromising and such.
And it is very ambitious in the self-reference, in the nestings and framing and direct references to film. If it were a book, I'd be tickled pink. The problem is that though the subject is cinematic, the method is not. In fact, there is no cinematic intelligence here at all except his honoring of the "rules" of spontaneity (which adds little it seems). This is so, so puzzling because `The Limey' was almost the perfect cinematic statement: no story at all and even that copied: not a remake but a film overlain on the previous one where you could SEE the layers.
Yes, I understand the importance of actors. But they never are central to the vision that few people can deliver.
I have to recommend this as worth watching only because of the literary complexity of the script. A film above and below, the film within about a play which resembles all three movies, all of this surrounded by a beehive of sexually-driven obsessives at multiple levels. But there is never a moment of shift like that when Streep trips in one level and falls in another in `Lieutenant's Woman.'
But apart from the narrative structure, you can get better Christopher Guest by watching a Guest movie. And riskier Figgis by watching Figgis.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
When I began watching this movie, I was all excited about it - what with such a massive star cast and Soderbergh's reputation. At the end of the movie, I felt cheated of my time and effort that this movie demanded.
You're better off watching a re-run of "Traffic".
To make a good film you need a good plot, and good characters. However the characters in this film have absolutely no character. There's nothing in the film that keeps you watching, it's more like highlights from 'Big Brother'. Only duller.
From one monotonous conversation to the next, 'Full Frontal' is nothing more than an exercise in self-indulgence. A way for the director to say "I got these big stars to perform for free".
And to further my disappointment more, Julia Roberts is in this film. An actress I've always been irritated by.
Don't bother watching this film, you'll never see those 2 hours again.
Don't get me wrong. It was an ingenious idea--$2 mm home movie, highly improvised, fine director in Steven Soderberg, a very talented cast, complex movie within movie (within movie--as the last shot shows) structure--but the result is far less than the sum of its parts. It's a dirty patch on the bootsoles of all involved comparable only to Spielberg's "AI"--which was until I watched "Full Frontal" the worst film by a talented director I had ever seen.
I won't bother reprising what passes for a plot. Suffice it to say that the film covers 24 hours, and feels longer. It's rather like being trapped watching the home movies of a group of very artsy, very neurotic, very self centered, and ultimately very boring people.
If I were to single out one aspect that is particularly like fingernails on the blackboard, it is Catherine Keener as Lee. I must say that it's probably a pretty good piece of acting, since Lee is every man's nightmare--needy, self centered, manipulative, cruel (her office behavior would get her fired at any decent firm--of course the character is an HR person, and so there is a drop of reality there), and completely loathsome. She makes any Woody Allen neurotic look like the poster child for mental health. It's probably not an unrealistic portrait of a certain kind of woman. The question is, do you want to spend even 101 minutes with her?
I decided to watch this based on favorable buzz I had heard. Learn from my error. Avoid at all costs. This is 101 minutes of mind-numbingly self centered Hollywood masturbation, without a single relieving touch of charm or humor. I hope that Mr. Soderberg has the grace to blush when this leaden turkey is mentioned.
I found this film challenging and enjoyable, because of its many different parts and how they interconnected with each other. It was not an easy film for me to watch because I was constantly thinking about what Soderbergh was *really* trying to say with each scene -- this movie is deeper than simply depicting movie stars with egos and a mediocre movie within a movie (the characters in the film even acknowledge the absurdity of "Rendezvous"). The acting isn't a strength, but I don't believe it is a weakness either. I really enjoyed this film -- even though many would disagree with my high rating, I am giving this 8/10.
The main gripe about its "lack of continuity" is, to me, unfounded. The movie in no way purports to be linear storytelling. I see it as something of a cinematic experiment using a vignette format involving several storylines which at times intersect. In a culture whose favorite forms of entertainment are a guy on steroids cocking his eyebrow and talking about smackdowns, and action movies with roman numerals after the title, this film obviously contains too many arrows for some people's quivers to hold. So be it. I respect Mr. Soderbergh and his cast for taking some risks.
Each storyline in the film stands on its own as an interesting tale. The movie isn't so much a straight story as it is a look at our perceptions of reality and an insightful look at human behavior. I don't want to assign it any particular "meaning", however, because I think it can be interpreted on several levels (not the least of which is how the movies warp our perceptions of reality).
All of the acting was superb and the dialogue very naturalistic.
This is one of the most innovative movies you'll ever see. 8 on a scale of 10.