Monday, November 27, 2006

10 points, 10 Items or Less

ThinkFilm opens the comedy drama this Friday, Dec. 1. In one of those experiments the indie film market is testing it's also supposed to be available for download and on pay per view. I'd explore the cheapest option, not that the film doesn't have a certain modest appeal on the bigscreen. In 10 points (or less):

1) It has nothing to do with the TV show premiering tonight; if it did, that would the best and most inexpensive way to catch it.

2) Freed from the yoke of voiceover narration and nobility, star and executive producer Morgan Freeman gives a relaxed performance as "Him," an unemployed action film actor going the indie route who stops by a faded Spanish grocery store worlds apart from his Los Angeles for research.

3) His biggest find is sharp-tongued Scarlet (Paz Vega), a clerk. Vega, the bright spot in Spanglish, shines here and sparks her co-star, who helps her improve her lot in life.

4) The writer and director, Brad Silberling, is a studio creature (Lemony Snicket, Casper, etc.) clearly enjoying a few days off from the backlot. The film has a loose rhythm.

5) The cinematography, by Phedon Papamichael, handsomely illuminates little pockets of the city and environs where cameras rarely seem to tread.

6) The musical carwash sequence and the scene where the two actors teach each other children's songs (it's that kind of getting-to-know-you movie) are charming.

7) The precise, unflashy editing, by Spielberg ace Michael Kahn, helps Silberling pull scenes like this off.

8) Freeman's encounters with VHS tapes of (fake) films co-starring him and Ashley Judd are an effective running meta-gag.

9) Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman cameo as the movie moves into Brentwood for its bittersweet climax.

10) As fast and as painless as a trip to a well-organized grocery store with no waiting, 10 Items or Less is over in 82 minutes.

(11) And, in a season where movies routinely tip the scales at over two hours, that is no small asset. )

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