Projections - Movie Reviews

15 Minutes 15 Minutes

Writer/director John Herzfeld delivers a timely tale of the human obsession with being famous - getting your 15 minutes of fame.

Oleg and Emil, two Eastern European thugs, arrive in America to collect a debt from a former associate.  Oleg, being a film buff steals a video camera and begins to film their adventures.  The meeting between old “friends” turns to murder while Oleg captures it all on tape.

In an attempt to cover up the murder, Emil and Oleg set fire to the apartment hoping to eliminate any evidence.  Investigating the fire is Fire Marshall Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) and soon on the scene is the media sweetheart Detective Eddie Flemming (Robert DeNiro).

Flemming and Warsaw develop an odd relationship bordering on a mentoring as they begin to track the criminals and a possible witness.  Using his media savvy, Flemming soon spins the murder investigation into a self promoting, front page grabbing  spectacle.

Recognizing the problems ahead, Emil decides to play the American judicial system and the media for all they are worth.  His plan is to video the crimes to prove his insanity as well as to make copies of them available to the media for huge dollars to pay for his defense.  The main goal is to be found innocent by reason of insanity which will allow him to sell book, movie and all other rights and keep all the proceeds.  It is unfortunate that to do this, others must die.  To quote Emil, “I love America!  No one is responsible for what they do.”

The plan goes forward as Flemming and Warsaw find a witness and discover who the killers are.  It is this discovery that introduces us to Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer) as a tabloid television show host chronicling Eddie Flemming and the murders.

Knowing that exposure and money will deliver them from the justice system, Emil decides that Flemming must die.  It is this murder that gains them the money needed to defend the charges that are sure to be brought as Hawkins pays $1,000,000 for the video.  This is a disturbing piece of the film and visually graphic.

It is fame and ego that is the ultimate downfall of Emil and Oleg as they fight in a restaurant during the showing of the video by Hawkins.  It is Hawkins that leads Warsaw to them as he is preparing to allow them to surrender to him and to the world on TV.

From here the film follows typical Hollywood expectations.  Evil gets away with the crime - justice is ultimately served.  I'll not reveal the actual ending as it does work on some levels, but it could have been done better.

The best part of the film is the cinematography as we are shown many scenes through the viewfinder of the video camera with sharp cuts back to traditional views and the use of news reel footage to give a feeling of realism.

To wrap up, De Niro and Burns deliver star quality performances.  Grammar is believable as the ratings driven tabloid host.  Most impressive are Oleg Taktarov and Karel Roden as the criminals.  The passion they deliver has been missing from all the films released in the past few months and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future, particularly Oleg in the remake of Rollerball soon to be released.

Oddly enough, you'll find yourself believing the American courts can be and are manipulated by lawyers, press and being desensitized by violence shown to us daily through news, TV and yes even movies.  Or I may just be cynical.

15 Minutes

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