Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Movie Review: $9.99

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Movie Review: $9.99

Tatia Rosenthal's thoughtful debut feature, $9.99, is a stop-motion animated collection of interconnected stories based on the work of Israeli author Etgar Keret. The title refers to the price of a mail-order book that Dave Peck (Samuel Johnson) purchases called The Meaning of Life. And through Dave, his family, and his neighbors in an apartment building in an unnamed city, the film does indeed reflect on both the major and the minor details that give life its significance. The movie begins with an arresting incident. Take a look:
Recognize the voices? The homeless man is voiced by Geoffrey Rush (Shine), and the other man is Jim, Dave's father, voiced by Anthony LaPaglia (TV's Without a Trace). This shocking incident propels Jim, his sons, and everyone whose lives they touch on an introspective journey that is often humorous, mostly quiet, and occasionally revelatory. The animation does have a distancing effect, allowing one to experience the movie as a detached observer more than an engaged participant. This is not entirely unwelcome given the ruminations sparked by the story. In some respects, $9.99 is reminiscent of Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's Smoke (1995), an indie set in a Brooklyn tobacco shop that also followed the daily travails of the store's manager (Harvey Keitel) and patrons (William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, and more). Like that film , its insights are subtle. Its points are argued gently. And one only feels the greater impact of its revelations upon reflection later, much like the characters onscreen. $9.99 is in limited release, and opens locally tomorrow at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, (678) 495-1424. Still and video clip courtesy of Regent Releasing.

1 comment:

Ryan McNeil said...

Wow...for a while, i was starting to think i was the only person who'd even heard of this movie, let alone seen it.

I quite like it, and you're right to say that the film feels like you're on the outside looking in...and likewise, that it's a great vantage point to have for this set of stories.

Oh, and the piggy bank made me smile every time it was in the shot.