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Spoiler Alert
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by Charles Tatum

"Good thing I liked this flick"
4 stars

The relationship between a film maker and a film critic is a love/hate one. I love watching movies, I assume film makers love making them, and passions can become intense about the work. Writer/director David Rakowiecki seems to understand this relationship, and fashions an intense little story around it.

Brad (Daniel Bartkewicz) runs a geeky film site not unlike one run by a certain Harry Knowles. He and writing partner Walt (Jarred Kjack) trash movies and run spoilers of Hollywood product (always running a spoiler alert first). Brad and Walt have also penned their own fanboy screenplay, "Vampires vs. Zombies," which sounds a lot like "Underworld," and have sold it. Walt leaves as Brad orders Chinese food to celebrate. The doorbell rings, and a coked up film director named Harrison (Lars Stevens, who looks a lot like the late Charles Rocket) comes in waving a gun.

It seems Brad trashed Harrison's last film so badly, he lost financing for his next masterpiece. He is on the run from some shady characters, is about to leave for Brazil, but decided to stop at a basement apartment in New Jersey to get a little revenge on the man who wronged him. What follows is a clash between film maker and film critic, with a lot of blame to be passed around.

I liked the film, but not because I don't want David Rakowiecki to bust down my door waving a gun. Rakowiecki finds some great balance between the two men. Harrison is making schlock (Thanksgiving zombies, kung fu fighting skeletons), and doesn't want to admit it. Brad is no angel, as his opinions have an ulterior motive, and he is looking to advance his own career. This film is often cleverly written, and despite the thousands of films I have seen (although not as many as Brad), certain plot twists still surprised me.

The use of widescreen is impressive, especially since this is essentially a filmed stage play. The cast is good across the board, and the staple gun pitch meeting had me sitting up straight. Rakowiecki does a great job showing us how emotional each man is about film (Brad even has an unconscious experience that involves a princess from a galaxy far, far away), and I was able forgive a few problems here and there: I wish I could come up with the droll quips if someone broke into my house waving a gun (which is taken away from different people waaay too many times), and some dialogue is spit out so quickly it rings false, but the film makers keep coming back to the artistic passion, even as the characters begin turning on each other and become more and more repulsive.

"Spoiler Alert" is a lean (and eventually mean) exercise in dark comedy and pathos. Hmm, was that the doorbell? I didn't order any Chinese food...

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originally posted: 09/02/09 06:50:33
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