Monday, March 3, 2008

10 Items or Less


So here's my first movie review for Andres, who is in Accra and can't access the internet these days, much less find a place to see a good indie film... and Andres does love him some indie film.

"10 Items or Less" is kind of an awkward way to start these reviews. I'd never heard of this film until I saw it while standing in the As Seen on TV store around Christmastime. I was amazed that the same store that featured a massager in the shape of a dolphin and a putting green for use when you're on the toilet would have a film section. Most of the films were Asian, so the few ones in English really stood out. I was pretty surprised to see one starring Morgan Freeman that I'd never heard of before, and since he's my favorite actor I made note of it.

As it turns out, it's a surprising little film, in good ways and in bad. The basic plot line is that Morgan Freeman plays a famous actor who hasn't worked in four years and is dropped off at a latino grocery store on the not-so-great side of town to do a little field research for an independent film he's considering taking part in. You never get any explanation for why he's at that particular store, or what the film he's going to make is about, and you never see the guy who dropped him off again. He meets a drop-dead gorgeous checkout girl (Paz Vega) who is smart, frustrated, has an attitude and a heavy Spanish accent. She also has a job interview for an Office Manager position, a wretched ex-husband, and no self-esteem, so famous actor dude spends the day with her and helps her get her confidence back and go through with the interview.

A lot of the dialogue is just bad and forced and seems like someone's first-year film school project rather than... well rather than something starring Morgan Freeman. The pace of the film is slow --even for an indie film-- and really, nothing happens that is worth mentioning. The thing that keeps it from being a bad film is that once you get used to the pace and the cheesy dialogue, there are some quite nice moments. You're actually a little surprised by them. Freeman is himself and Vega is just stunning... plus her English is kind of bad which gives her some charm and makes her slightly more believable. There is a chemistry between them, and you almost get the feeling that they decided to do this film in an afternoon as a favor to a couple of young scriptwriters, like they're actually buddies. There's a bit where they're teaching each other songs as they drive to the interview which is just too real... down to the silly lyrics Freeman's character makes up.

When the film ended I was smiling and felt a little lighter... like this film didn't ask too much of me but it gave me something nice to think about and feel and I appreciate that. Nice film for a Monday night after a long day.

The bottom line: Once you get used to the film being bad, you see what's good about it.

1 comment:

Andrés said...

Muchas gracias Amy por estos comentarios. Creo que no vería esta película, por lo que dices. Espero que la siguiente película sea buena... me gustaría leer el "movie-review" de una película que sí te haya gustado y te haya impactado!!! Saludos desde Ghana. Thanks a lot Amy, keep they coming!