In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_kate_plays_christine

Kate Plays Christine

An actress prepares to play the role of a suicidal news anchor, and is slowly transformed by the experience.

Thumb_war_dogs_ver2

War Dogs

War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own their horribleness.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Denise Calls Up

  |  

“Denise Calls Up” is a great idea. I was going to say it was a “great idea for a movie,” but apparently it's not, since the movie, short as it is, grows tiresome before it's over. Maybe it's more of a great idea for a stand-up routine, or a magazine article, or conversation.



The idea is this: In an age of telephones, pagers, answering machines, beepers, e-mail, appointment schedulers, online conferencing and cybersex, people are too busy to meet with one another. All communications are at arm's length, and the arm in question usually ends in a hand holding a telephone receiver, a computer mouse or a remote control for the answering machine. The movie is about a group of seven friends who, we gradually realize, have never met. They keep in touch mostly by phone. As the story opens, one of the characters surveys a groaning buffet table in her apartment, but no one comes to her party. They're all “tied up.” It's not that they dislike her or want to hurt her; it's that in-person events rank low on their list of priorities.

This notion, true as it is, doesn't stretch well enough to make a feature film. But Hal Salwen, the writer and director, makes a real try, and there are moments of comic inspiration, as when the friends learn that one of them has died in a car crash: “She was on the car phone at the time, and the crash forced the receiver up her ear and into her brain.” Another funny sequence begins when Martin gets a call from Denise, who is pregnant with his child. Ah, so they at least met? Not at all: Martin made a donation to a sperm bank, and Denise made a withdrawal. This situation leads toa moment that film fans, weary of obligatory live childbirth scenes, may enjoy: The first movie childbirth by telephone.

Other moments: a mother calls on her son, who doesn't answer the door.

She can call if she wants to talk to him. A friend sets up two of her friends on a blind date. None of them have ever seen each other. Two would-be lovers have phone sex--and fake their orgasms. It's hard to make appointments even over the phone (“I have my schedule with me--but not my primary schedule”). And a couple talks about how they broke up: “We didn't really split up, we just sort of drifted apart.” “How long has it been since the last time we saw each other?” “Five years.” The basic problem with the film, I think, is that after the comic inspiration wears off, it requires a plot. And although Salwen provides as much of a plot as he can, it's hard to care about a movie story in which the characters never meet one another or really care about one another. So there you have it: The movie falls under the weight of its own premise.



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

No Matter Where You Go, Here It Is: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" Hits Blu-ray

A celebration of the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," in light of the film'...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus