Friday, May 04, 2007

Independent Film Festival of Boston 2007 Closing Night: Brooklyn Rules

Michael Corrente is kind of upset by the state of film production and distribution in America right now, and it's tough to really blame him - he put a lot of work into Brooklyn Rules only to likely see it have a brief blip of a theatrical release in a couple of weeks before heading to video. The thing is that, despite his protests before and after, it really isn't much more than another "coming of age in a rough neighborhood" story. It's better than average, but there's no denying that the audience had seen it in one iteration or another.

One thing that struck me odd - and showed me just how ignorant I am about film as an industry - was Corrente talking about how he turned down offers from other festivals because they weren't offering what IFFB was. It made me kind of curious what festival conditions would cause a filmmaker to refuse to have their film there - did South by Southwest refuse to fly him out to Texas and put him up in a hotel? Did some other festival say they could only screen it on video, or on some screen significantly smaller than the big room at the Coolidge (he did rant about multiplexes at one point). Maybe they were only interested if Alec Baldwin showed up. I dunno. I can't think of any situation where, if I had made a movie, I'd be picky about what festivals show it.

Anyway, that's a wrap on the IFFB. My folks are in town this weekend for Matt's college graduation, but after that I'll try and get reviews of the rest of these things up.

Brooklyn Rules

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 May 2007 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (Independent Film Festival of Boston)

Three pre-teen kids find the body of a murdered man in the prologue of Brooklyn Rules, which could be the start of an interesting mystery. Instead, it's mainly a method for one character to get a dog and another to get a gun. We've all heard the saw about introducing a gun in the first act, we know what almost has to come, so it's a matter of keeping us entertained in the meantime.

The film does all right on account. The kids we see in 1974 grow up to be Michael (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Carmine (Scott Caan), and Bobby (Jerry Ferrara). Michael kept the gun, but he's a pre-law student at Columbia University now, while Carmine is the one who has fallen into the orbit of neighborhood mob boss Caesar (Alec Baldwin). Bobby kept the beagle, and has grown up to be a sweet but not too bright young man trying to earn enough money to marry his longtime girlfriend Amy (Monica Keena). There's a new girl in Michael's life, too, a classmate (Mena Suvari) from Connecticut who find the rough around the edges Michael edgy but, of course, doesn't fully understand the kind of world he lives in.

It's familiar, but director Michael Corrente and his cast are doing better than going through the motions. The boys are mainly collections of easily-identifiable characteristics - Carmine's vain, Bobby's cheap - but Terence Winter gives them fun smartass dialog to bounce off each other and the cast whips it back and forth in a way that makes it genuinely sound like old friends busting on each other without malice. Too often, this sort of interaction sounds like nastiness under the guise of it being good-natured ribbing. Some of the voice-over bits given to Michael are a little wonky - for every great line like Michael's description of how his ability to bullshit and complete lack of scruples will make him an excellent lawyer, there's a cliché'd bit about how everyone from the neighborhood has a soft spot for Sinatra.

Full review at HBS.

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