Film Review: The Man on Her Mind

Film Review: The Man on Her Mind

The Man on Her Mind is in theaters now. Check your local listings for showtimes.

Think back to the last conversation you had with a close friend. How many times did you say his name? As long as you weren’t in an argument with him, or having some deep emotional revelation, you likely said his name very little. When we talk to people we don’t often say their name. It’s why we can hold entire conversations with a new person and then promptly walk away realizing we have no idea who they are. Unfortunately, some writers forget this tiny element of real life and force their characters to continually announce each other’s names as if they both have done something terribly wrong. This is but one of the many offenses committed by The Man on Her Mind, a mess of film populated by inhuman characters.

manonhermind1The very premise of The Man on Her Mind requires a bit of mental surrender. See, Nellie (Amy McAllister) has an imaginary boyfriend; well, in all honesty, she has a string of imaginary boyfriends. Her sister knows about Nellie’s penchant for the imaginary and desperately tries to fix her up on dates with actual men. One such guy, Leonard (Samuel James), is particularly revolting to Nellie. But here’s the catch, Leonard looks identical to Nellie’s latest boyfriend. Oh, and Leonard talks to an imaginary version of Nellie pretty frequently. That is the entirety of the film’s major plot, and while it is admittedly silly and childish, it isn’t all that complicated. I was just able to sum it up in no more than five sentences. Despite this, the film spends a seemingly endless amount of time just trying to explain itself.

The biggest hurdle that the film is never able to launch itself over is that of its mediocre to mind-numbingly terrible writing. The characters speak to one another as if trading pedantic, contrived, and self-involved letters. They use language that even the most conceited and highfalutin individuals would feel was a bit over-the-type. General pronouns are discarded favoring the much more literary “one” or dreaded proper name. The writing is so dismally out of touch that I often hoped it was merely a poor translation. No one with a firm grasp on the English language or any kind of practice at the conversational arts would posit these ridiculous turns of phrase as something authentic. This can only be the result of a cultural divide or, God forbid, an overly self-confident high school freshman with dreams of emulating the Bard. But no, this comes from lawyer turned hopeful filmmaker Alan Hruska.

manonhermind2I imagine Hruska is the type of person who walks around, nose firmly in air unwilling to sully his vision with the sight of lesser peons. In my mind he of course speaks in an affected Mid-Atlantic English accent. The actualities of his characters do not matter, for they could only be so lucky to be like him. Rather than crafting individuals with unique traits that agree with their complex eccentricities, he molds them all to be Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn imitations. They live in a modern world, but act as if having been removed from a time of more refinement. These affectations and idiosyncrasies speak to the film’s disconnection from everything, be it story, character, or life. Not one individual can be shown to be a fully developed person, merely sketches that Hruska slides around as he sees fit.

Adding to the utterly insufferable script is a legion of mediocrity that continues to fail the film on nearly every count. The camerawork is pedestrian, ineffective, and occasionally lacking any semblance of real composition. One-shots utilize angles that make two actors talking to one another appear as if in completely different locations. The actors deliver dialogue with all the grace of those in a talentless community theater, lacking a modicum of subtlety or grace. The direction, which is provided in part by Hruska, is simplistic to the point of boredom, adding nothing of any substance to the film whatsoever. This is all despite a budget hefty enough to allow for multiple grandiose sets and professional equipment. It is the type of film that carries the shine of something much more accomplished, tricking you into thinking it is worth your time, when you would have been much better off indulging in a bit of fluff that at least has the good grace to know itself.

Within the film’s first ten minutes I was transported to my high school theater class. A room full of hormonal teenage amateurs, few of which were taking the class out of an actual appreciation for theater. Most put in the amount of effort necessary to sneak by largely unnoticed. However, there was always at least a couple of people that saw themselves as the next stars. Largely lacking in practice or discernible talent, they would read from scripts as if they had no idea how humans actually interacted, all the while believing themselves to be superior to the rest. The Man on Her Mind is that annoying wannabe thespian, wrongly seeing his aspirations as success. You will want to be rid of him soon after you two meet, but you are trapped, unable to escape his delusional image of cinematic prowess. As he collapses under his own ham-fisted theatrics you will worriedly look to your classmates and say the only thing that you can, “this guy can’t be serious.” We yearn for this to be a joke, but deep down you know that you cannot fake that kind of desperation.

Find more from Derek by following him on Twitter @DerekDeskins.

Film Review: Frank

Film Review: Frank

Frank opens in limited release August 22nd. Check your local listings for showtimes.

No, the pictures are not a joke. The Frank of the film’s title is in fact a man who spends his life wearing a large fiberglass head. In its very concept, it is as if the film is proudly waving its freak flag. Alerting all those that this is just a bit weird and certainly of the indie persuasion. [Read more...]

Video of the Week: Every Hitchcock Cameo

Video of the Week: Every Hitchcock Cameo

I love Hitchcock. Who doesn’t? From “Rope” and “Strangers on a Train,” to “Rebecca,” “Psycho,” and the “The Birds,” Alfred Hitchcock is truly one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever lived. Of course, what he was known for were is short cameos, generally in the earlier part of the picture, as spotting him became such a game that he felt it was taking away from the story.

What’s your favorite Hitchcock cameo? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy opens in theaters nationwide today, August 1. Check your local listings for showtimes.

As soon as Iron Man was getting us excited about the prospect of what comic book movies could be, our hopes were somewhat dashed with Iron Man 2. It wasn’t really until The Avengers that we saw just how great this Marvel Cinematic Universe had the potential to be. Unfortunately, the path post-Avengers has been about as up and down as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man 3 fell right between its first two installments in terms of quality, and Thor: The Dark World was just a bit worse than its mediocre first piece. [Read more...]

Film Review: Lucy

Film Review: Lucy

Lucy opens in theaters nationwide today, July 25. Check your local listings for showtimes.

There was a time when cinephiles could actually get excited for the latest Luc Besson film. No, no, not one of the many films the guy is credited for writing, or the even more he produces. I am talking about those films where Besson’s name followed that hallowed “directed by” credit. That snapshot of time in the early 90s when he crafted action with brains. [Read more...]

Video of the Week: Sunnyside, Queens

Video of the Week: Sunnyside, Queens

Everyone hates vertical video, even if you don’t know what it is, you’ve seen it before. It’s those videos shot on mobile phones with the device held vertically. But this is the first time I’ve seen something shot in that way where I’m happy to post it as our Video of the Week.

Filmmaker Dan Toth used iPhones to create this triptych (a multi-panel work consisting of 3 sections) of Sunnyside, Queens. A tribute to the New York City borough, he created this piece to show the neighborhood he called home for two years.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Borgman

Film Review: Borgman

Borgman opens in Boston today, July 18. Check your local listings for showtimes.

Often when you find a really great film, it’s something that you want to revisit. You look forward to going back into that masterfully crafted other world to scavenge for gems that you casually passed by the first time. Drafthouse Films, the film distribution offshoot of the incomparable Alamo Drafthouse, does not seem interested in that kind of success. Having released 22 films since their 2010 inception, every single one is just strange or unsettling enough to make it unappetizing to your average film distributor. Borgman keeps with this tradition, a film that is just as confusing and disturbing as it is fantastic. [Read more...]

Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I was a huge fan of Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” He successfully restarted a franchise that had been lying dormant since Burton’s laughably awful “reimagining” in 2001 of the original film franchise. Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” explores the origins of the super-smart primates, the first steps of the demise of the human race, and the rise of hyper-intelligent super apes that will (spoiler alert!) eventually take over the world.

[Read more...]

Film Review: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Film Review: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz opens in limited release on Friday, June 27. Check your local listings for showtimes.

I use the internet every day for most of the hours that I am awake. If you were to take the internet away from me tomorrow, I would be lost and just a bit scared. I am of a generation that has had internet available for most of its life. Sure, I remember the endless AOL CDs, the agonizing screech of a dial-up connection, and the frustration of a phone pick up disconnection; but it has almost always been there. [Read more...]

Video of the Week: Why Beta Lost to VHS

Video of the Week: Why Beta Lost to VHS

Format wars are completely interesting – the HD-DVD vs Bluray brought back memories of the infamous battle of Sony’s Betamax vs JVC’s VHS. In this video, YouTuber engineerguy, gives some great reasons to why VHS won over the much superior first to market Betamax.