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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 03.02.09] movie review drama



[Editor's note: ESAN premiered at Sundance]

Year: 2009
Release date: Unknown
Directors: Frazer Bradshaw
Writers: Frazer Bradshaw
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: cyberhal
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Now that I am finally unemployed like everybody else, this is the kind of movie I suppose I should like. Experimental, thoughtful and downbeat, this is a portrait of Wayne (Jerry McDaniel), an unhappy carpenter in the middle of the kind of existentialist crisis that French philosopher Jean Paul Satre would have had wet dreams about. But with this topic, I honestly found the movie way too slow and even the visual originality wasn’t enough to make up for the fact almost nothing happens in the story. I am naturally drawn to the idea that consumerism is meaningless, and more than that, I reckon that the Government, corporations and society try to make us sign up for houses, marriage and consumerism just so that we shut up and stop dreaming for better things. However, when it comes to films, I also like story development and plot twists. That said, this will appeal to cinematographers and cinephiles who love ideas and don’t mind a very slow pace.




Frazer Bradshaw’s visual technique is definitely interesting. He illustrates Wayne’s thoughts and feelings with a series of long shots of banal suburban rooftops and traffic, and this hooks up with Wayne’s inner voice, which is the narrative. Wayne’s problem is that the magic and romance have gone right out of his life, and we see if from the opening pan shot of suburbia and cut to Dude, in brown workman’s overalls, stooped shoulders and defeated by life. His average day consists of rebuilding houses, taking bus trips and being bored. In his not very interesting house, his marriage is on autopilot and man and wife no longer seem to understand each other. No wonder he’s naffed off! The voice over provides a running commentary on his frustrations which include how the arrival of kids meant the end of his sex life. He’s got a house, but the cost of the mortgage means he’s got no money to do anything fun. Wayne and his mates Leo and Manny find relaxation by drinking beer and discussing the women in their lives, who don’t make them very happy. More long shots of suburbia, more bus trips, you get the idea.



Wayne looks around at his friends, and their lives are not much better. Leo (Rigo Chacon Jr) is divorced and has a very nasty shock waiting for him towards the end of the film, and their other buddy Manny (Luis Saguar) is so bored that he shoots up coke in his car. Wherever Wayne looks, it’s all quiet desperation. I wonder if that’s what Christy Moore’s talking about in his Irish folk song. Now if this was a French movie about consumerism and boredom, it would be about now in the story that Wayne snapped and started killing people or stealing cars and painting his face blue like in the amazing Pierrot le Fou. But this ain’t Goddard, and although two things do happen right at the end, one very weird and the other shocking and depressing, most of what we get is more anguish/confusion/monologue. The ending has a twist, but by that point I didn’t really care. On the upside, I will say that the sound track is great and is a good reflection of Wayne’s alienation. It’s a kind of Philip Glass/Wim Mertens minimalist cacophony type thing, which kicks in and out. Composers Dan Plonsey and Kent Sparling (who also worked on Sleep Dealer) did a good job. I would like to watch another Frazer Bradshaw directed film, but only if someone’s invited to help with the script.

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

haha great review. You were able to make the film sound pretty good despite yourself. Pierrot le fou is one of my favorite new wave films. Modern ennui will always be tres chic.

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Gonzo (8 years ago) Reply

I thought this had to be the worst film, not only at Sundance but that I've ever seen. The direction was horrid, the writing cliche, the script boring and the cinematography as bad as any film school sophmore. If only Bradshaw knew what he was doing. He knows people, that's how he gets his films into everything, but ultimately, he just doesn't get it. He should stick with his cinematography which even there is questionable.

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Frazer Bradshaw (8 years ago) Reply

I'm the filmmaker of Everything Strange and New. One of the things I love is how wide a breadth of responses my film receives.

On one extreme, is Gonzo's comments, above. On the other is the review by Peter DeBruge in Variety (http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117939519.html?categoryid=31&cs=1) and Rob Nelson placing the film at the number 5 spot on his top ten list from Sundance in Film Comment.

As far as I'm concerned, all are absolutely legit reads of the film's success, because for me, the individual's experience of the film is the film.

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Susanne (8 years ago) Reply

I thought it was one of the best movies at the SFF festival, not only the story and the characters, the cinematography was exceptional. Congrats to the producer and director!


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