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Overall Rating
3.68

Awesome34.04%
Worth A Look: 29.79%
Average: 17.02%
Pretty Bad: 8.51%
Total Crap: 10.64%

3 reviews, 29 user ratings


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sex, lies, and videotape
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by Jack Sommersby

"An Indie Film When Indies Were Really Indies"
4 stars

Believe it or not, the film shocases a 'hero' who gets off on videotaping women as they talk about sex, there's isn't a single iota of nudity, and it still manages to be successful!

After a nine-year hiatus from his hometown of Baton Rougue, law school-dropout James Spader returns in a beat-out white convertible, clad in black clothes, and bearing very little in the way of material possessions -- except that of a video camera, which he uses to interview women about sex, which manages to arouse his impotent self to orgasm. He seeks temporary refuge in the home of old college buddy Peter Gallagher and wife Andie MacDowell, where he manages to repel the former and fascinate the latter. Also figuring into things is the wife's randy sister (newcomer Laura San Giocomo), who's carrying on a torrid affair with the husband and an antagonistic one with her sibling. This landmark independent film by debuting writer/director Steven Soderbergh is an uncommonly perceptive personal drama that revels in talk and how people relate to one another; Soderbergh is that rare filmmaker who knows how to shoot dialogue scenes interestingly -- he doesn't go the killjoy Cassavetes route by emptying the film of visual snap to slavishly cater to talking heads. And the performances, excepting MacDowell's (which is forced and mannered), are wonderful, with Spader the standout. He's mesmerizing as a man all too aware of his past faults and none too forgiving of them; as atonement for them, he's isolated himself from society, sublimating his considerable intelligence to fuse with an emotionally distanced demeanor that's wasting his life away. Soderbergh paints himself into an artistic in the end, not knowing quite how to end things in as unorthodox a way as he started, so, alas, a bit of conventionality is employed to sum things up. Yet the film leaves quite the lingering impression. It's not every film you get excited from just by watching and listening to characters converse and interact, but such is the glorious case here. Winner of the Best Film and Actor prize at Cannes.

The only thing really sad aboout looking at this film in retrospect is that Spader should have been propelled into the top echelon of Hollywood actors. That never happened, alas, and he's now doing time on prime-time TV. Ugh.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2423&reviewer=327
originally posted: 03/27/05 04:32:03
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User Comments

9/09/10 PAUL SHORTT INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION PIECE WITH GREAT PERFORMANCES 4 stars
4/29/10 name can you do thi for me, 2 stars
3/19/07 Mick Jacking-off to women talking has never looked this cool! 5 stars
11/12/06 Marcus Utterly boring drivel about boring little people in smalltown USA. 1 stars
8/22/06 Carol Baker Another romantic drama where everybody cheats everybody else. Especially Peter Gallagher 3 stars
8/14/06 Sepi53 Overrated, boring POS 1 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Soderbergh goes on to make fucking GREAT movies, but first makes this fucking GOOD movie. 4 stars
5/29/05 Jake Pretty good 4 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold Quite overrated. Is it supposed to be devestatingly insightful or something? 3 stars
4/30/05 Chris Stephens Good indie flick 4 stars
4/09/05 Tanya Grays I like any James Spader movie 5 stars
3/31/05 Cindy Sheeks This was the film that made me sit up and take notice of James Spader. He was wonderful. 5 stars
1/02/05 Daveman The best of Steven Soderbergh;s films next to Traffic, performances are spot on. 4 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed Quintessential indie flick of the next generation (late-80's/early-90's). Spader is superb. 4 stars
4/05/04 Me A POS from the start. Boring drivel, and unused T &A. An absolute waste of celluloid. 1 stars
9/27/03 Mr. Hat Insightful, mostly well-directed. Good acting and OK sexiness. 4 stars
6/05/03 pete samplist excellent character dynamics 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby A wee bit incomplete, but most of it's mesmerizing. Spader is brilliant. 4 stars
2/21/03 R.W. Welch One tends to nod off, but of what I recall.... 2 stars
4/30/02 Angela A movie that is erotic, because it makes you think about sex, without actually seeing any 5 stars
4/05/02 Scott Sumner Only thing that was gripping about this P.O.S was me gripping the exit door handle..... 1 stars
4/02/02 Roy Smith Wasted 90 minutes with four characters I grew to hate even more as the movie went on. 2 stars
4/02/02 Klute What am I missing here? 2 stars
1/10/02 Andrew Carden It's Intriguing and Very Powerful. 5 stars
10/22/01 Yasemin you have to see this movie 5 stars
7/19/01 Ryan Brilliant 5 stars
10/30/00 hbergeron hugely overratted by a good director 1 stars
10/29/00 Walter Gaede Subtle and gripping. See it more than once to catch all the nuances. 5 stars
3/28/00 JonnyAngel Awesome movie 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Aug-1989 (R)

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