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    Full Frontal

    "Full" stop

    "Full Frontal" is a relatively empty pseudo-sequel to "sex, lies and videotape" built around the predictable raft of contemporary couples with intertwining lives.


    There are moments in Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" when you just want to scream "FOCUS!" at the silver screen. Not just from a projection standpoint — a lot of the film is shot in that grainy, low-lit, washed-out style as if director Soderbergh just discovered digital video (clue: he did! If God had wanted us to shoot in digital video he wouldn't have invented cinematographers, right?) — but also in terms of the overall production.

    Directed by: Steven Soderbergh.
    Written by: Coleman Hough.
    Cast: Julia Roberts, Blair Underwood, Nicky Katt, Catherine Keener, David Duchovny, Terence Stamp..

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    After the disappointing "Ocean's Eleven," an all-star remake of a not very good movie to begin with, Soderbergh is back to the relatively smaller budgets that begat his "sex, lies, and videotape" (for example). In fact, "Full Frontal" is supposed to be an "unofficial" sequel to that film although I can't for the life of me figure out why. (It's been a while since I saw it, I'll admit.) " 'Videotape" was excellent, I remember that much; "Full Frontal" is a dud, so the comparisons are spotty no matter what.

    Notice I didn't say, "total dud." There are a few fun moments in this otherwise pretentious excuse for cinema: Julia Roberts (as a blonde) picking at a tuna sandwich; Catherine Keener (as a brunette) tossing an inflatable globe at an interview candidate while having her recite all the countries in Africa; Catherine Keener (again; the hair color has nothing to do with anything) voicing her dislike for all things Hollywood as she's held up in Traffic (the caps is a joke, like much of "Frontal"); and Blair Underwood's poetic "black man's kiss" rap in the back of a taxi cab.

    David Duchovny, who gets top billing on account of his name coming before everyone else's, alphabetically, has one five-minute scene. (It features a massage therapist, $500, and the need for "release" — classy, eh?)  

    Soderbergh should be ashamed of himself for trying to pass this off as entertainment. It's as if he had an idea, one or two ideas maybe, maybe somebody else's idea(s), scribbled it all down in diary format, started shooting without any kind of real script to work from, stuck it on an iMac after the first digital video tape ran out (about four hour's worth I'd estimate) and chopped it all together using Final Cut Pro (that last part is true according to the closing credits).

    How many more fuzzy, handheld, cinema verité "interpretations" do we need to see this year? (Leave those to the Danes.) How many more movie-within-a-movie movies do we need to see this month? (Leave those to Woody Allen. On second thoughts∑) How many more rambling "plots" that feature six, eight, fifteen couples whose disparate lives intertwine with comic/tragic/meaningless results do we need to see this week? "Full Frontal" takes these elements — Dogme 95-style production values, the aforementioned Mr. Underwood and Ms. Roberts (who's been in three out of four of Soderbergh's most recent pictures — she still sparkles so you can see the obvious attraction) playing, respectively, an actor infatuated with a reporter in a film called "Rendezvous," and various vacuous personalities (a screenwriter, a Hollywood producer, a masseuse, a egomaniacal actor with more than a little Hitler complex, a VP of HR, and so on) — and sticks them together in a way that manages to diminish all three.

    Oh, and Terence Stamp (Soderbergh's "The Limey") wanders in and out of frame on occasion. Oh, and David Duchovny, who gets top billing on account of his name coming before everyone else's, alphabetically, has one five-minute scene. (It features said massage therapist, $500, and the need for "release" — classy, eh?). Oh, and there's no actual full frontal nudity in the film (except for the dead guy)

    I didn't hate "Full Frontal" but I hated the fact that I opted for it over Dana Carvey's "The Master of Disguise."

    AUGUST 31, 2002

    Reader comments on Full Frontal:

  • Full Frontal was great!   from rover, Sep 4, 2002
  • [no subject]   from Anthony, Dec 5, 2003

  • Post a comment on "Full Frontal"