April 18, 2005 - by Mulder or Bust
I went to the 7:15 screening in Manhattan on Friday night. David was kind enough to come to MY neighborhood---the screening was only about 10 blocks from where I work! How accommodating is that?
Anyhow, I'm baffled by the NY Times' critic calling this movie "unwatchable." It wasn't, by any means. There was a lot to like about the film, but honestly, it did have flaws in terms of logic and some of the dialogue was way too maudlin (my opinion.)
On the plus side, DD is proving to be a fine director---he cast this film perfectly and got some terrific performances from the actors---all of them. Even Robin Williams playing a retarded janitor wasn't too hard to take (and I've been dreading that for months since I first heard about it.) Zelda Williams is cute as a button and has natural acting ability, and Anton Yelchin is amazing. He earns every bit of praise thrown at him so far. Every scene with him in it was good, and I particularly liked his and Erykah Badu's scenes (and the scenes between him and Tea Leoni.) I think casting is a real strength for DD as a director---choosing Jesse L. Martin as Exley in The Unnatural and Anton Yelchin as the main character Tommy in this film were inspired choices. He knows what he's doing.
Visually, DD's filmmaking can be really whimsical and charming and I mean that in a good way. I loved the sequences that opened and closed the film and there were a few small visual touches along the way that stood out in my mind and recalled the best things about "The Unnatural" (which I liked best in terms of his direction and casting besides this film).
As someone who was 14 years old in 1973, I related to a lot of what I saw on screen and laughed in appreciation at seeing several props that immediately brought that era to mind (one girl had Click-Clacks, that really cracked me up).
DD did an introduction before the screening started, and a Q&A afterwards. He looked great---kkaki slacks, black shirt and brown suede jacket (for those of us who shallowly need to know that) And he was wonderfully accommodating to everyone who approached him in the lobby afterwards to get some "face time" with him. He gave pictures, autographs and whatever.
I think it's an enjoyable film---nothing great or earth shattering, but it did leave me smiling and a little teary at the end (I loved his song choice for the closing credits----it's been in my head since Friday night!)