Monday, August 20, 2012

Breakfast with Curtis (C)

(Breakfast with Curtis was shown as part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival)

They're few movies that I've desperately wanted to enjoy more than Rhode Island director Laura Colella's community based comedy Breakfast with Curtis, a movie about the generally easygoing relationship between two affable neighboring homes; one a large purple house filled with pot smoking eccentrics, and the other a now reformed hippie couple with an extremely awkward 14 year old son. There isn't any conflict or danger involved, no sudden twists, or any real plot. In fact, only for a single shot does Colella show the world outside the friendly block. It's the cinematic equivalent of sitting out on the porch on a hot day, and drinking a nice glass of cool lemonade. For the relatively short 84 minute runtime, you're simply relaxing with some quirky, newly found friends. And while I certainly enjoyed their company, once the film ends, you're unfortunately left with the mediocre feeling of "That's it?".

The entire film seems to function in what would normally be considered to be the first act of a regular movie. Characters are introduced throughout without being referenced again, ideas for a conclusion are implied but never acted upon, and nothing ever seems to actually happen; just a setup for nothing. In an odd way, it reminded me of genre and tonal opposite Panos Cosmatos' sci-fi/horror Beyond the Black Rainbow in how conventional "setup-conflict-resolution" is ignored in favor of developing an alternate environment for the audience to temporarily inhabit. For Cosmatos, it's the surreal nightmarish Arboria facility, and in the Colella's feature, it's an overly charming suburban Providence street. In both examples, it's more of an existing, though fictional atmosphere than an actual linear story.

Colella has created a fully functioning mini-universe for her movie to settle in, but unfortunately despite a charismatic and charming cast, there simply isn't enough of anything. No character development, no plot, no suspense, no drama, no conflict; but there's enough goodwill from the director and crew that I'm interested in whatever they do next. Given a script with more substance (or after writing a script with more substance, as Colella served as the film's writer as well), she could do great things, and I'll be first in line when it arrives in theaters fully formed. I really, really wanted to like this movie, but there're just too many flaws to formally recommend it.

Grade: C


  1. They say "opinions are like assholes" and we all know everyone has one. The problem is that you disguise your poor writing skills with pseudo-intellectual rhetoric from review to review, and the reviews themselves are just writing exercises designed to masturbate your supposed vast knowledge of film. Every reference is ludicrous and random with no real connection to the films you cite. My wife and I saw this film, Funeral Kings and Brilliant Mistakes and thoroughly enjoyed all three films. You should be ashamed of yourself taking the hard work of others and handling them with recklessness and disregard. As a former journalist back in the 80s, I started writing reviews much like you before blogs were in existence. We as writers can get our points across more responsibly by practicing discipline. Is it necessary to slam this film or Brilliant Mistakes is the manner you did. Couldn't you have simply stated your displeasure with a modicum of self respect? Funeral Kings did not deserve the review you gave it, nor the shameless manner in which you write reviews. What is your full name? And again why do you write so recklessly, yet take zero accountability? The right thing to do is to remove all three reviews from your blog and think about other ways to say what you did with a little respect for the these people. Someone may just write a blog about The Worst Film Critics and out you on the top of that list. Let's see how that makes you feel. The festival and these three popular and very well-done films deserve better than this. Be a gentleman and do the right thing.

    1. Please don't think I'm an ordinary Internet troll; I've loved movies my entire life, and never meant to cross the line in cruelty. I'm sincerely sorry that I've offended you, and am now trying harder to be a better critic; beginning by deleting my review of "Brilliant Mistakes". While with this review I believe that I was fairly respectful, the opposite was true with "Brilliant Mistakes". I went way too far, and hope to never be that mean in a review again. This site isn't me just stretching my ego; it's an attempt to tastefully share my opinions to the world, while also trying to improve my own writing. Thank you for your constructive criticism, and I sincerely hope that if you ever happen across my site again, you'll see how things save changed for the better.


  2. Hi David, thanks for being a gentleman and responding so quickly. Something struck me as odd about that review. I had read so many of your reviews before and it seemed a bit out of character. We are bound by our responsibility to provide useful information when we take on the serious business of reviewing indie films. Many of these people are like you and I. They don't get paid very much for their work. Directors and producers at their level put so much blood, sweat and tears into their work, they almost deserve a little more slack than Hollywood directors who have no excuse for polluting the world with horrible films. I have spent the last few days in Toronto on business and there's a film festival happening there right now. The streets are teeming with thousands of industry people and I've been reading gobs of reviews because my hotel is littered with magazines from their industry. There is definitely the urge for some to be creative and funny, but an unspoken restraint, which is prevalent here, gets the point across swimmingly without the need to be offensive. Good luck, keep writing and resist the temptation to get sucked down the proverbial "rabbit hole" when reviewing a film that didn't work for you. It's not easy, but remember, Filmmakers simply make films for the same reason you and I like to write. We're all creative beings, and we love film. Best, GS