View Date: March 3rd, 2001
|Robert De Niro||Eddie Fleming|
|Edward Burns||Jordy Warsaw|
|Kelsey Grammer||Robert Hawkins|
|Avery Brooks||Leon Jackson|
|Melina Kanakaredes||Nicolette Karas|
|Karel Roden||Emil Slovak|
|Oleg Taktarov||Oleg Razgul|
|Vera Farmiga||Daphne Handlova|
Director and Writer: John
When broken down, movies are little more than historical documents with motion, sound and action. They reflect the influences of society on the filmmaker, and their subsequent translation into a piece of art. Hence, the movies of a certain period will tend to represent the times by being a cross section of when it was made. In 15 Minutes, director John Herzfeld attempts to make a biting social commentary regarding the influence of the media on people, and vice versa. The desired ideal hits home more often than not, but leaves a little to be desired, gently easing its message home, rather than hammering, as is needed here. There are enough glimmers of potential though to make this something that you should indeed keep watching.
secrets, dirty little lies,
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pies,
We love to cut you down to size,
We love dirty laundry.1
The story is one of those that hasnít happened as far as we know, but very easily could, because it takes already existent elements to an extreme that has yet to be reached, but that we know and fear could. Two Eastern European thugs come to America in search of their American dreams, each having a different opinion on what that is. For Emil, itís the retrieval of his cut of the money from a bank robbery and for Oleg, the money is secondary to the fulfillment of his version of the American dream fostered by a viewing of Itís A Wonderful Life (he even goes so far as to refer to himself as Frank Capra repeatedly). As expected though, something goes horribly wrong, and the two end up in a string of crimes, which have also been videotaped by the voyeuristic Oleg. Their web spins out of control when they seek out the witness to one of their crimes, and also focus on their main pursuers, famed detective Eddie Flemyng and short tempered fire inspector Jordy. During the subsequent chase and spree, the two are submerged into the culture that thrives on negativity, talk shows on sordid subjects, news shows that dish out dirt, and a public that seems to thrive on the crimes and criminals rather than the victim.
ďIn America, no one is responsible for what they doĒ
The film hits more than it misses, and is at its best when it shows just how much influence what we see can have on what we do. Emil watches, with near obsessive vigor, an episode of a daytime talk show where a father blames his problems on low self-esteem, his internal flames are fanned further when he sees a magazine article on a criminal (convicted by DeNiro) who was declared insane, then claimed innocence once committed. The dollar signs and fame are nearly blinding in his eyes, and the continued filming drives this desire even more. Then you have a perfect representation of why these two continue their spree, when DeNiro is chasing them and the police through downtown NYC and Oleg takes great pains to keep the camera filming and focused. Throw in a later scene with Burns, channel surfing and seeing even the smallest participant gaining a large amount of fame, and you have the magically dead on social commentary that this movie wanted to make. Unfortunately, the film also results to typical cop/robber style plot twists and devices that only distract and slightly dilute the power of what could have been. The film wants to show the darker side of the mediaís societal relationship and influence that was touched on films like EdTV and The Truman Show. 15 minutes really doesnít weigh in completely on the matter, but rather shows both sides of the story, weighing in that criminals exist in the world, but can be fueled on and driven to another level by the notoriety that could result from their actions. Director Herzfeld seemed to wander back and forth between light comedy, action and commentary. He gives his performers enough to work with, but none really standout while doing so. Grammer is good at being a conceited tabloid news reporter, and DeNiro can always play a cop, but each lacked that little bite required. The only standouts are two newcomers, Vera Farmiga (as a witness pursued by the two) and Oleg Taktarov (an ultimate fighting champion veteran) each of whom stand out by their expressive face and piercing blue eyes. They fit into the role, and have their moments, but are never really convincing completely in their attempt at realistic portrayals.
We can do the
innuendo, we can dance and sing.
When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing.1
1 - Dirty Laundry (1985) performed and written by Don Henley
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