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Explores New Ground
mrchaos335 July 2003
Director Steven Soderbergh calls Full Frontal the unofficial sequel to Sex Lies and Videotape, his groundbreaking 1989 film. Most everyone else has called it a mess, or useless waste of time. One prominent American critic even suggested this might be the worst film ever by a major director. I can't say I agree with the harsh criticism. While I'm not exactly sure what the movie is about, and vast passages of it simply do not work, I do think it is a film with great passion and energy. Soderbergh has left behind the slickness of Ocean's 11 and Erin Brockovich and made an experimental film that bristles with inventiveness. Not everything works, but there are several nice performances, particularly by David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener and I enjoyed watching an A-list director stray from the tried and true and explore rockier ground.
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A Huge Waste of Talented People
claudio_carvalho26 April 2004
`Full Frontal' is maybe my greatest deception this year. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and having such a cast, I would not believe that the film could be such a crap. There are lots of characters, but none of them is well developed. Therefore, the viewer sees many famous actors and actresses on the screen and is not able to understand who they are, what are their motives, where they are. The plot is very confused, and some actors and actresses perform more than one role. The image and photography are horrible, using a kind of fake Dogma '95 style. I do not know how such talented people could be part of such a mess: friendship or big money? Anyway, a huge waste of talented people and of my time and money, in a film that never works. My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): `Full Frontal'
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That don't impress me much
skymovies20 February 2004
Too dreary to work as a satire, too wrapped up in its own cleverness to engage; this is an insubstantial vanity piece that might have been entertaining to make but isn't much fun to watch. I'd have thought that if Soderbergh wanted to show off, he could have come up with something better than this collection of over-scripted (and not particularly original) gimmicks.

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.
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My honest opinions, they don't have to be yours.
cresentmoon53131 December 2003
I found Full Frontal to be a rejuvenating film. I am so use to seeing films that are so structured and plot is thrown at you, with this film I didn't know what was going to happen next. I went in to the viewing of this without knowing what to expect, I can say I didn't have high expectations about it. I didn't let the knowledge of Steven Soderbergh as a director influence how I began watching it. I went in with an open mind and I think you really need to in order to get the ideas presented. This film took a risk by using well known actors, brilliant actors, making the public believe that this would be a film like all of the others. For me, it was great to see the versatility. I was glad that there was some true acting going on, there was an enormous amount of truth coming from each artist on the screen. To see truth and honesty and open hearts on screen allowed me to really embrace this film. Some people may say they disliked it because they didn't have any sympathy for any of the characters, well I think that it doesn't really matter if you do or not. This film was a day in the life of people who are all in some way intertwined and are all brought together for a brief moment. I feel that it is trying to portray the truth of each person and if that was the idea, Steven accomplished something great. I have only rented it but I intend to go out and buy it. It is a good resource for actors searching for what truth honestly looks like on screen. Full Frontal is a good exposure of the soul really bringing each characters truth out in to the open.
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Nod and Wink a full movie doth not make.
seanchai32119 February 2004
What as waste of energy. Sure you could see where they wanted to go, if it hadn't been made a 1000 times by independants and students. Was Soderburgh trying to re-create something from his "Sex, Lies..." days? This movie can be summed up in that it was a student film made by Hollywood trying to be self-referential. If you were in on the jokes and the cameo/guest appearances then you were in on the movie, otherwise, for most - you're out. Nodding and winking at your clever, in-jokes at Hollywood does not make a movie.

What was Terence Stamp doing there?
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I can't believe no one liked this film
rali-13 August 2002
I've seen a lot of bad reviews for this movie, but personally, I liked it. I guess the movie didn't have a definitive plot, but it was slightly quirky, which is a nice change of pace from the more serious films I usually watch. When I left the movie theater, everyone in there seemed pretty satisfied with the film But, everyone's entitled to their own opinion.
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Grow fame and...
Kareninysimba29 March 2005
In Spanish there's a saying that translates: "Grow fame and go to sleep". I think this happened with S. Soderbergh, where he took advantage of his surprising win at the Oscars Best Director competition and the success of his movie Erin Brockovich along with his pal Julia Roberts and her high peak in the moment he made this movie. Without those 2 mega successes he wouldn't convince many studios to make this movie, and none of us would ever seen it. The box office barely went over the movie budget.

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.
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I loved it
Maciste_Brother31 March 2005
I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed FULL FRONTAL. I'm not a big Steven Soderbergh fan and only heard bad things about this film so when I rented it, I was expecting more of Soderbergh's pointless films, like KAFKA, and instead was totally engrossed with the movie, the characters and mostly the hypnotic style and direction. Aside from the ending (the party scenes) and the unconvincing storyline with David Hyde Pierce, I liked everything else. I was mesmerized from beginning to end.

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.
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Worst movie I have seen
majorjkg15 October 2007
Even though it received 5 stars from many critics, this is the worst movie I have ever seen, including a number of porn movies. I have no objection to sex and can tolerate foul language but a movie should have some redeeming qualities and this movie has none. Basically no plot, no suspense, no romance, no fun, no good jokes, no good sex--just a sorry attempt by some excellent movie makers to be cute with no payoff! I rate this movie even worse than Burt Reynolds worst failure with Dom Deluise (when he and his cast appeared to be having a great time making an unfunny movie) because Soderbergh and crew have the skill to do so much better. I still don't understand why so many critics thought this was such a great movie. Must be some kind of Hollywood inside joke that they are not sharing with the rest of us!
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Much-maligned indie exercise turns out to be a cinema masterclass
R. J.18 January 2003
Steven Soderbergh's much-maligned digital satire of Hollywood took an unfair savaging at the hands of American critics, who seem to resent the fact that the man has become the single most interesting and consistently exciting film director currently working in America. Designed as a deliberately low-budget, quasi-improvised indie production to counter-balance the big studio production of "Ocean's Eleven", "Full Frontal" was shot according to a Dogme 95-like manifesto (the actors had to drive themselves to work and do their own wardrobe and make-up, all the locations are pre-existing), and is a cross between the confessional nature of "Sex, Lies & Videotape", the multi-story structure of "Magnolia" and the film-within-a-film framework of François Truffaut's "Day for Night". It's the tale of a day in the life of six Los Angelenos connected in some way to the film industry: budding screenwriters Enrico Colantoni and David Hyde Pierce; Pierce's sister-in-law Mary McCormack, a struggling masseuse, and wife Catherine Keener, a human resources VP on the verge of a nervous breakdown; black actor Blair Underwood and film star Julia Roberts. Soderbergh follows the day's events as if he were shooting a documentary, in grainy (post-produced) DV, intercutting it with 35mm photography of a film in production starring Underwood and Roberts, whose plot is supposed to echo the main characters' situations. The Chinese-box structure only really becomes comprehensible about a third of the way in, and what looks at first like a self-indulgent exercise in the mechanics of low-budget filmmaking quickly becomes a cinema masterclass as Soderbergh effortlessly navigates the veritable maze of referential layers between film and life to the point you can no longer distinguish where film ends and reality begins, throwing in a number of celebrity cameos (Brad Pitt, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, Terence Stamp reprising a scene from "The Limey") that blur the borders even further. You have to be open for it, but if you are you'll be richly rewarded.
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I Hate to Say It
rustwater6723 February 2004
You know, for years I have been of the belief that Steven Soderbergh was a great filmmaker, because of Sex, Lies and Videotape, always waiting for his next great film, but it never comes. After watching Schizopolis, Oceans 11, etc., etc., and now finally Full Frontal, I have to say I think he's a fraud. How could anyone with even an ounce of artistic vision cast Julia Roberts all the time? She blows. I think Soderbergh is to indie film what Ringo Starr was to rock and roll. He was in the right place at the right time, but definitely not worthy of the indie-film-god status that seems to be associated with him. I think sans James Spader in SL&VT, we would not know Soderbergh's name today. Sad, really.
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The movie within a movie within a movie just did not work
curciof29 July 2002
I couldn't track the characters and after 20 minutes I didn't want to track them. I just wanted it to end--what was Soderbergh thinking? At first I thought it was supposed to be amateurish since it was a movie within a movie, but, when it went on and on with horrible lighting and terrible hand-held camera work, it was enough to make one want to run out screaming.
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majikstl2 April 2004
If nothing else the film FULL FRONTAL is remarkably ill-named. Other than its sexual connotation, "full frontal" implies a head-on attack, a blunt and honest approach. That is not obvious here, rather, Steven Soderberg's film goes the longest way possible to get a conclusion that is obvious, if indeed the film has a conclusion in the first place.

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.
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Smart But Not Cinematically So
tedg4 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

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.
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You'll need a release alright!
vineet_upendra26 May 2005
Question 1: *What* was this movie all about? Question 2: What or who prompted its selection as IMDb movie of the day?? (Which in turn has prompted this review.) This has got to be one of the most pretentious and pseudo-high brow movies I've ever seen. Soderbergh has made a movie that so labors on being arty, that you end up witnessing a massive exercise in an aimless and fruitless(one follows the other, I guess)story(?) telling.

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".
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Must be from LA to get the jokes, but go see the film anyway
imanifilms6 August 2002
I originally thought people that didn't get this movie were just plain dumb. However, consider the number of LA/Hollywood insider jokes there is some room for understanding. The quirkiness (Wilson played by Terrence Stamp walking through the lobby) adds to the humor - having seen Steven's other films does also. All-in-all a great commentary on life in [the film business] LA.
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Self-indulgent nonsense
sadfootsign1 April 2004
I looked forward to watching this film - Duchovny, Hyde-Pierce and Brad Pitt are amongst my favourite actors. I knew the film was going to be a little wierd, but then, I like weird. And I knew it was an arty lo-budget affair. But none of this was to prepare me for the nonsense that followed.

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.
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Great idea, bad handling
boris-263 February 2004
I wish FULL FRONTAL was just better made, that's all. As somebody who in works in Digital Video, it just would of been great to see members of the Hollywood A-list (Soderburgh, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, etc etc) be in a great, crowd pleasing film that was made with the video equipment I use. Instead, we had a confusing film that caters to an art-house crowd, or at least, tries to. Too many times, the camera is operated in a way to say "Hey look, don't pay attention to the story, pay attention to this sun-glare, or bad zoom.)
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One of the very worst films I have ever seen--bar none
buzzerbill8 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The kindest thing that one can say about this film is "Thank God it's not any longer!"

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.
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Proof of Concept Falls Short
tvsterling17 August 2004
Rented this film after reading an interview in DV Magazine with Soderbergh. Evidently the film was a concept; to play the visual qualities of film against those of digital video, & to try to integrate the 'Reality Show' idea into a feature film. The film has a few good moments but comes off confusing & visually ugly. I have worked in both film & video. Video is still inferior to film in terms of visual quality but it doesn't have to be ugly. There is lots of footage in the film that is just plain ugly thru run & gun style shooting carelesness. A little more craft in shooting the video would have kept it technically in bounds & still allowed the video quality to express itself. While I'm at it a major mistake was shooting the video with only one cameraman (Soderbergh himself). This is a major advantage of video; cheap multi-camera shooting is one of the great benefits. Double teaming this excellent cast with two good cameramen on these small self-focusing cameras could have produced some awesome cutting material. A tragic mistake. There are also lightweight gymbal camera mounts for these cameras which make beautiful floating camera moves. They could really have helped the hand held camera. Even though the film doesn't quite work I have to hand it to the director for trying. It would be easy to back off the cutting edge thru fear. Hitchcock did proof of concept stuff with 'Rope', nobody ever did that again but the film wasn't a failure either. It's all about guts. I think the reason for the big name cast was that they wanted to try to break some new ground too. Maybe just making lots of money gets boring (although personally I can't see why). The best acting was by Catherine Keener. She got to develop a full & interesting character. Close behind & neck & neck were David Hyde Pierce & Blair Underwood. I also really liked Nicky Katt as Hitler. I agree with others that his role & the producer's should have been expanded; especially his. 101 minutes run time leaves 19 minutes to play around with (120 standard US film). That's lots of time. The article also said that there were some hidden & fully candid cameras used. I wish I could tell where or even if any of that was used. I say reload & try again. Hell even more radical. Shoot the whole thing with hidden cameras. What always kills avant guarde experiments is lack of good actors & there was no lack here.
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seems like the movie within a movie DID work
Xdude217 August 2002
Going into this movie I didn't know what to expect because of the less than ecstatic reviews from papers and imdb, but i was delighted with the movie. I feel that Soderbergh did a great job following each character throughout the movie. The shifting from normal cinema camera work to the fuzzier hand-held showed the difference of 'movie live' and real life. This way of shooting is also used to trick you or leave you wondering, "what part WAS real?". David Hyde Pierce and Nicky Katt were hillarious and i would deffinately recomend this movie to anyone who enjoys independent type cinema.
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Not for everyone
jaydogg827 May 2003
I don't usually write film reviews, but this is film which I had to write about because it is not a typical Hollywood film. The premise of the film is a look into the lives of people in the movie biz over a two day period. This is a complicated film, because this film is trying to make a point regarding reality and genuineness (as Soderbergh explains in the commentary), without taking the viewer through a plotline. Plus, Soderbergh was very experimental with his use of digital cameras. It is for these reasons that this film will never gain widespread popularity.

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.
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I really enjoyed it.
chrisjcollins77717 August 2002
A lot of people have beefs with Full Frontal, but I liked it. It's taken some hard hits from professional film critics, so I wanted to chime in with a positive review.

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.
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Great film!
tupolski29 July 2002
Full Frontal is really wonderful. Great performances by all, but truly brilliant work by David Hyde Pierce, Mary McCormack, Catherine Keener, and Nicky Katt. I heard that VARIETY panned it. They are nuts. Saw it at a preview in Austin at The Paramount tonight. It is a beautiful film. It is hysterically funny and also quite moving.
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What a disappointment. Enough said.
4dawloo22 October 2004
Well what can I say? I have always been a massive fan of Julia Roberts and the entirety of her work, but this really shocked and dismayed me. It's plot is poor it is unbelievably uninteresting and bored me to tears. beside 'Open Water' it is the worst camera work i have witnessed (bar home videos) I am very eager to collect the majority of Julia's work and so I decided to go for it and have a peek at this seemingly entrancing film, however it was to my distaste. It lacked any real plot and seemed to be a group of people talking to a dodgy camera, hence i have promptly returned the film and hope never to view its likes again. If you're curious to see what I'm talking about, don't look. It's a nasty shock. Strike one Julia.
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