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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look27.27%
Average: 24.24%
Pretty Bad: 21.21%
Total Crap: 18.18%

3 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Sidewalks of New York
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by Chris Parry

"Kooky has learned something. Not much, but something."
2 stars

Ed Burns is an easy target. Not only does he write, direct and produce all of his films, but he also makes himself the lead role. Every time. The romantic lead role at that. You could deal with that if his films were new and original and stretching the art-form, but to many folks they never have been. They’re talky, static, one dimensional affairs where the characters are the story and the story ain’t much. But you do have to give Burns his due, he somehow manages to get people in to see these chatterbox affairs and if his most recent tilt is anything to go by, he’s learned a few things. Not nearly enough, but a little is a lot when you start with bugger all.

Sidewalks of New York is a faux documentary look at an ensemble of Manhattanites and their struggles with love. It uses a cinema-verite style that follows six goofballs through their unknowingly intermingled romantic lives; Burns is trying to date Rosario Dawson, who is trying to get over her marriage to David Krumholtz (Slums of Beverly Hills), who wants to jump the bones of Brittany Murphy (Girl Interrupted) who is secretly bonking Stanley Tucci (Midsummer Nights Dream), who is married to Heather Graham, who is selling a house to (and thus wanting to screw) Burns. Sound complex? Uber-silly, more like.

Burns attempts to give his subjects an air of realism by using this faux documentary style, but when the cameras are following these people everywhere, including into the bedroom, any pretense that you’re watching the real world quickly fades. Also not helping is the script, which has the characters spouting dialogue that tags them as actors, not real people. Only Heather Graham seems slightly real, and that’s because, frankly, she keeps blowing her lines.

Indeed, if there’s one lesson to be learned from Sidewalks, it’s that putting Graham next to genuine acting talent like Tucci is a recipe for disaster. Oh, she’s pretty to look at. Good God is she pretty to look at. But she couldn’t act her way through a TV soap. She’s got two looks – seductive and dumb. Often she’ll combine the two (that’s her attempt at angry, I believe).

Graham-slamming aside, credit should be paid to Burns for finally figuring out a way to break up his long static conversation shots. In Sidewalks he uses a jump cut technique that removes frames from a given shot, so that the scene jumps forward a seconds or two. Why? To break up otherwise boring camerawork. Usually overusing such techniques would be seen as a cinema sin, the kind of thing that might get you a job doing MTV promos or music videos for Prodigy, but in this case it’s the only thing saving the project from becoming mired in boredom. Burns needs this hokey technique to spice things up. If you wanted to be cruel you could suggest that any technique that reduces the number of frames in an Ed Burns film is a good technique, but that would be just mean.

At the risk of being accused of Burns-bashing, the fact that his script exposes the dark side of many of his characters far too soon doesn’t help things. Right form the outset it’s clear that we’re watching a 108 minute train wreck. What’s the point? Are we supposed to empathize with these people? See ourselves within them? Learn something from them?

There just doesn’t seem to be a point to proceedings. We watch these people screw with, and on, one another, we have a few laughs at some witty repartee, and then we go home not even close to enlightened or educated.

Entertained? Well, that depends on how you like Burns’ work (and how much you like Woody Allen’s). You’ll like it more than She’s the One and Brothers McMullen. But for some of us, the same could be said for the clap.

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originally posted: 05/02/01 07:11:27
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User Comments

6/29/10 art THIS'MOVIE" SUCK"S! 1 stars
4/06/10 the dork knight Unpleasant whitebread fucks and their charmless personalities. 3 stars
3/22/09 Dane Youssef Burns' is an one of the writer/director/actors working today. And THIS is one of his best. 5 stars
1/12/05 Sam Irritating and lacks continuity 1 stars
10/20/03 Uncle Salty I challenge anyone to find one single shred of a reason to watch this horrendous bore. 1 stars
1/11/03 Theresa Very well written, I love Ed Burns' work - he writes what he knows, and its very believable 5 stars
6/07/02 spyguy2 Brittany Murphy - Cute, but does she always give the same performance? Average flick. 3 stars
1/16/02 Andrew Carden Graham Gave A Memorable Performance. 5 stars
12/17/01 garnet harry nothing new but a good film 4 stars
12/06/01 Isabelle Fournier Who the fuck needs it? 1 stars
12/04/01 Martin It was a good little film and Ed Burns took a place in the ensemble rather than the LEAD. 4 stars
11/28/01 bradgray96 Most people at the Seattle Intl Film Festival loved it. 4 stars
11/25/01 Boomshanka The critics seem to love it, but let me tell you.. it's AWFUL! 1 stars
11/22/01 ron20003 Who is this guy and how does he get money to produce crap 1 stars
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  21-Nov-2001 (R)



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