June 12, 2009

REVIEW: Break (F)

Break is the new movie "featuring" David Carradine in one of his last roles (he has several more films yet to be released), and it inexplicably opens for a one week engagement today at St. Anthony Main before a DVD release in July.

Find my 0/4 star capsule review from today's Star Tribune here.

Writing - 4
Acting - 5
Production - 5
Emotional Impact - 4
Music - 4
Social Significance - 1

Total: 23/50= 46% = F


  1. inexplicably opens for a one week engagement today at St. Anthony Main ...

    I don't think it's so inexplicable ... it's called "cashing in on his death."

  2. Well, a theatrical release might not be so inexplicable for the reason you mention, Rick, but a week-long run in Minneapolis is pretty strange considering it's played nowhere else in the country outside of a week in L.A. Looks like there are couple of screenings/weekend engagements in the Pacific Northwest before the DVD release.

    Somebody at St. Anthony Main must have been pretty excited to get this one booked, but I'm at a loss for why anyone would see it after watching the trailer.

  3. How uninformed you seem, Mr. Getahun. Were you not informed that the filmmaker and several of the stars were invited to Minneapolis to screen the film based on Mr. Chad Everett's fan base? Was this information not extended to you by the newspaper that hired you? Or did you just choose to ignore it despite the fact that your readers would have probably liked to be made aware of such an event. Bashing a film is one thing but bashing the people who support it, frankly, just comes off malicious & disrespectful. I attended the opening night screening and was very impressed at hearing the filmmaker and actors speak, as were others in the audience. It was an interesting opportunity rarely available in Minneapolis. Not to mention, Carradine's death came weeks after the theater's announcement of the run. I think it's great that the St. Anthony Main supports small films and the people who work hard to create the entertainment you see no redeeming qualities in. - Jonathan

  4. An impassioned defense, Jonathan, and I appreciate your visit here and the well-informed comment. But to be clear, I was assigned specifically to review the quality of the film, and since you offer no praise of it I'm tempted to think I was on the mark.

    I was fully aware of the opening night screening and appearances by the Clebanoff and Everett and others even before I saw Break, but I had no permission or context to plug their appearance within a 150-word capsule review. The PR firm hired for Break must have had other avenues and audiences they were already targeting, and if people showed up for opening night along with you, then they did their job well.

    Yes, here on my personal blog I could have added more details than I did above, but I chose not to because I personally think the film is categorically awful, not because I have a vendetta against any of the people involved with it. If the filmmaker or the cast were hurt by my review in the paper, well personally I can say that I'm sorry, but professionally I can say that criticism comes with the territory.

    If it makes you feel any better (though I imagine it doesn't), I'm also thrilled that St. Anthony Main makes independent booking decisions and supports these small films, and if you peruse my reviews you'll see that I'm often try to bring attention to films out of the mainstream. But it almost always comes down to quality, which, in my opinion, was severely lacking in this case.

    Thanks again for your comment. It's encouraging that there are locals here in the Twin Cities (if you are in fact a local) who do support smaller films and aren't afraid to voice their opinions.

  5. A fair response. I am a local and have been an Everett fan for a long time and found it very exciting to see him and his enthusiasm for promoting younger filmmakers. I personally do not agree that the film was awful. It was by no means without flaws but saw very little that was as poor as you make it out to be. Actually I found many of the performances quite good. It was nice to see the hevier hitters (i.e. Madsen, Carradine, Russo) give performances that were well beyond what I've seen from them in other smaller films. I thought the fight scenes as raw as they were to be quite entertaining and original. I thought the music was great. I also thought the film did a great job of not taking itself too seriously and incorporating humor throughout. And not that I know all that much about production values but for the few hundred grand the filmmakers says he spent, I was pretty blown away by what he was able to assemble. The film intrigued me enough to start reasearching it and the filmmaker, which is how I came across your blog. I should sign up and look at your other stuff. I also found that the director, as awful as you think he may be, has something going that people like because he is working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Jay Roach from what I've read. Obviously you are welcome to your opinion, but I personally would tip my hat to Break with at least a couple of stars. Based on what I saw and heard that evening, I hope it finds its audience because I think it deserves a better chance than you gave it. -J

  6. Wow, thank you, Jonathan. A mature, thoughtfully reasoned argument against a review as negative as the one I gave Break is literally a breath of fresh air. That you were able defend this movie without personally attacking me or making outrageous statements about unrelated issues is appreciated.

    Whether we agree or not, it's so much more pleasant to hear someone explain their thinking and actually participate in civil discourse - online, no less. Doesn't happen often, so I hope you do find time to come back here and put me in check when you see reason to.

    After reading your comment earlier I did feel the need to look a little bit more into the reasons Break came to Minneapolis (a filmmaker or cast member connection to MN), but I've come up dry. Nonetheless I've appreciated a fair amount of the work done by the cast and can understand why people would be interested in Break from looking at the credits (and that was really the one positive that I gave Clebanoff in the review).

    I know Everett has a career that spans decades, but I remember him as Jimmy Katz from Mulholland Drive, in a scene that was really stolen by Naomi Watts. He, Madsen, and even Carradine and Charles Durning did well enough with their roles here, but Frank, Haiku, the Woman and the China Man left quite a lot to be desired in my opinion. There were times when I thought the movie was making fun of itself (the throat slitting scene), but most of the time I got the sense it was trying to be a serious action thriller, and during those moments I found it unbearable.

    I actually think one easy change would have simply been to cast Madsen as Frank, but I know the actor who played Frank (Frank Krueger) and Clebanoff have a history together. And the music - well I won't explain my entire grading scale here, but a 4/5 for music is proportionately the highest of any category, so yeah, it was fairly good. But that still says something about what I thought of the rest of it.

    If Clebanoff has the connections to get actors of that caliber on board for something as small as Break, well I do hope his work with Tarantino will lead to something better, especially insofar as directing goes. And I wasn't even kidding about the Haiku/poetry thing - that was actually impressive screenwriting.

    Anyway, probably too long of a response to your comment. Thanks again for stopping by and offering reasonable insights.


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