Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Skills Like This" (2009) - Movie Review

“Skills Like This” is promoted as an offbeat comedy. That it is offbeat is sure but not quite sure on the comedy part. It begins as the protagonist’s play bombing which it should and the rest of the film elongates as an extended sensible part of that horrendous play. But the sensible part is not good enough to project a professional film making. Rather it is an abysmal display of incoherent moments with one thing in mind, act cool. Max is the protagonist played by Spencer Berger who wrote the screenplay for the film. “Skills Like This” auras no comedy rather than the self awareness of its production value of being independent which is uninvited in a debut venture or for that matter any venture at all.

Two weeks pondering over his delusional journey of being a writer, Max has an epiphany amongst his friends Dave (Gabriel Tigerman) and Tommy (Brian D. Phelan). As the pompous and irritating Tommy leaves his mouth to fart off nonsensical ideas, Max picks up one from it. He decides to rob the bank opposite to their hangout spot, a mexican restaurant. Max impulses and in a very convincing manner robs the bank by grabbing the gun from the security guard and pointing it right at his head than the bystanders. The teller (Kerry Knuppe) holds her calm and of course cute to hand over the money. This jolts an excitement which Max wrongly takes for some passion and drive he had been missing. He also deludes himself that he is good at it. He is not. He does things fast and messy. He is successful at it momentarily. But he knows that he is going to face the consequences for which he strangely gives a smiling face. He is on the influence of body produced drug, adrenaline.

Max is supposed to be the breaker of the monotony. His friend Dave the representation of cubicle culture is woken up. Tommy as such is a questionable being who idolizes Max after his robbery stint. Tommy desperately wants to cuddle in the shadow of being in the part of this whole shame Max is going through. Max meets the teller and while she is enthralled by meeting the robber in regular situation is confused on what to do next. Well, bad boys attract beautiful women seems to be the formula and hence with nothing romantic or sweet happening between, happens sex. And both in this weird spin of events begin to like each other under a magic spell. Lucy is the teller’s name and of course she will snap out of it as this cannot keep on going with Max robbing toy stores and 24 hour convenience stores.

More than the amateurish acting from some of the actors, the characters act being completely aware that they are in a movie. Hence they begin to be cautious of the way they move or act out. The character of Tommy especially is not annoying because of his character but how Brian D. Phelan presents it to the audience. He has the face to be the jerk in the party or makes it look like that by biting his tongue every now and then. He takes along the push over Dave on a hangover day to his dismal interview attempts. Dave is supposed to be enlightened by this experience of his friends following their instincts, which are flawed beyond doubt.

There are couple of cool shots in slo-mo which amounts for style than substance. The reason there is little of empathy in Max is that we meet him at his rock bottom. And in that he wavers along with what he feels. In films not giving a tour into the past of a character is a tool. Most of the times, the current period the film takes place has enough to portray that character and other times it is a device to unfold the secrecy and surprise elements. In “Skill Likes This” it should have been used to get his previous life. What are his relationship with his family and why he is not feeling anything for his parents with his grand father in the hospital.

One of the meaningful insight is provided by Lucy when Max steals a statue from the restaurant they dined. She tells that this hallucination Max is in sure does sounds good but is not the art form he considers himself at. He is good at it is merely an excuse to pump his life forward. The film could have either used that as a running comedy and we could have vicariously lived through him on the things we would not be impulsive about. Instead it begins to fantasize and becomes conscious of its existence. It is divided in itself in the views of this protagonist’s act. This revelation is constantly vacillated for its righteousness and never gets to the real problem of Max. Or they could have forgotten his inner trouble and went on with the hilarious situation he puts himself in robbing places and getting out of it because of his random act than his thought of being good at. “Skills Like This” needs to realize that it is a film but it characters should be real in emotions and the behaviours they pose to possess.

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