Because anything this divisive gets my attention. So, I also watched The Leisure Class…


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First off, I have never watched that TV Show, and based off of Lisa’s description in her review of this film, I’m glad I don’t. It sounds like a seasons worth of footage of that dog from Godard’s Goodbye To Language (2014) pooping. In other words, I had no vested interest in this movie developed by watching the show. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

The movie opens with that title card which would make you think you’re about to watch something like Last Year At Marienbad (1961). Then we cut to a party and meet some of our characters.

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That’s William (Ed Weeks) and Fiona (Bridget Regan). One thing that stuck with me from Lisa’s review about the production of this is that it was shot on film, and it shows. I don’t know if it comes through in that screen shot, but it feels like it’s trying to remind me of Merchant Ivory Productions from the 70s and 80s.

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That’s Edward (Bruce Davison) and Charlotte (Brenda Strong). This is a party the family is having to celebrate the wedding of William and Fiona that is going to take place the next day. William is marrying into this wealthy political family.

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This is Carolyn (Melanie Zanetti) who is Fiona’s sister. She’s the short horny sister whose character is abandoned rather quickly and seems to exist only to give the next character who shows up a foothold in this whole setup.

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Then this guy shows up at the party. He is William’s brother and is about to throw a wrench into William’s plan to marry into this family. William is actually a conman. A lousy conman cause this movie already starts telegraphing the ending of the film to you at this point. Now the brother does have a name in the movie, but let’s call him what he is. He’s Withnail (Tom Bell), minus any lines people will be quoting decades from now. William tells Withnail to leave the party, but of course he doesn’t even for money. He latches on to Carolyn and generally begins acting like a jackass.

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Since night is upon them, they move inside. Then what I can only assume is the boom mic pops in from the upper left hand corner.

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But enough of that little technical goof because we need more characters. We have the parents who seem to be basically oblivious at this point. Fiona is basically the same way at this point. Carolyn wants With to Nail her. And of course there’s our conman William. Naturally that’s why the movie needs a detective character. That comes in the form of another sister named Allison (Scottie Thompson). She tends to stay away from the family and is a lawyer.

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And you can tell she doesn’t like him because of that I just met you, but I already know your kind very well look on her face.

Well, after William tries to get some.

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And so does take me now Carolyn.

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Withnail decides to round up some booze and people to go off to a party!

IMG_4247Now take a good look at Fiona’s hair here. I’ll bring that up later. Now a couple of them, including Fiona jump in a pool.

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Oh, did I say a pool. I meant a plot device to clearly establish that Carolyn is drunk, Fiona is her own woman, and William is in over his head. Well, seeing as Carolyn is drunk and something needs to bring things to a head, we get a car accident.

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You see the look on Fiona’s face. That’s the look of the audience when they realize this scene only works if William has never seen a movie where rich people get away with things like car accidents they are at fault for. I hate when movies depend on their characters existing in a world where movies don’t exist that have covered situations they’re in. But again, they are trying to foreshadow the ending of this movie some more here.

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This is when you need to take another look at Fiona’s hair. I have taken physics before so I’m aware of how hair works when it comes to hydrogen and disulfide bonds, but something tells me being in a pool for all of a couple of minutes doesn’t transform hair from looking perfectly straight to looking like you just had it curled at a salon. I’ll have to ask the lady who does my hair, but this struck me as a continuity error. A minor error like the boom mic, but my only guess is that it was left in to make her character appear more vulnerable and less hoity toity so that we would see her come full circle back to the way she was at the beginning, but worse.

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Anyways, this is when Edward decides to give William a good talking to. So he pulls out a report that apparently shows all sorts of inconsistencies in William’s story. Hmmm…and why he didn’t pull this report out I don’t know… prior to the night before the wedding? The movie never really says. The best explanation we are given is in a scene coming up when Edward makes it clear that he wanted a son to carry on his name, but he only seems to produce girls. Perhaps we are expected to believe that Edward was willing to turn a blind eye to this report that he clearly had before because it meant he would have a son-in-law. Fiona also gets a talking to about how the wedding could affect his and her political careers. But who cares about that because we need another character…apparently…for reasons?

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This is Carla the prostitute played by Christine Lakin. I actually know who she is since she played Jackie on Melissa & Joey. The girl who wanted Joey’s sperm to impregnate her one way or another. Here she plays a pointless character thrown in so that Withnail won’t leave the movie alone. At least I hope that’s the reason because otherwise she’s just a character who brings Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) into this movie by bringing up nipple clamps. I know what you are thinking. This movie needs a scene that looks like it belongs in a Tarantino movie or something like Funny Games. And it comes next.

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This is when Edward just flips out on the boys and his family. He pulls out a gun, he strips and whips Withnail, and probably give the best performance in this whole movie. Even if it is a bit much.

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Cut to the next morning and Edward with two penises drawn on his face makes his daughter and Withnail offers they can’t refuse. Much to the dismay of William who at this point probably figured he and Fiona would be riding off into the sunset having told her the truth about himself and that he truly does love her. At least Carla leaves the bride with a wedding present.

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Then a little wedding stuff before the movie ends on this shot.

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And that’s The Leisure Class. Why did this movie stir up so much crap over Lisa’s review? It’s a movie with it’s fair share of problems, but those are a dime a dozen. Director Jason Mann tried something probably a little too ambitious for the conditions he was working under, and it never really came together. It happens. It’s his first film. What were people hoping for here? I don’t know. I just know what the finished product is. A forgettable movie that amounts to Withnail Crashes A Wedding.

As for some of the nasty comments that came Lisa’s way. I don’t mind the down votes. That’s what they’re for, but if you only want to hear what you have to think about something then don’t read other people’s reviews of things. You don’t need anyone else’s validation to have an opinion about something.

Well, I’m moving on with my life now.

So, I watched The Leisure Class…


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Well, it had to happen sometime.

After 8 weeks of showing us how the film was made, HBO finally had to broadcast the latest Project Greenlight film.  Over the course of the series, we’ve watched the seemingly humorless director Jason Mann struggle to maintain his “artistic vision” while directing his first feature film, The Leisure Class.  We watched as he fought for and won the right to shoot on film.  We wondered if Jason would be able to pull off the film’s big stunt.  Even more importantly, we watched because we were hooked on the hostility between Jason and the film’s producer, Effie Brown.  Jason resented having to answer to Effie.  Effie resented having to work on something like The Leisure Class.  For 8 weeks, viewers were either Team Jason or Team Effie.

And through it all, we wondered — was The Leisure Class any good?

From the minute that Jason was named as The Leisure Class‘s director, I had my doubts.  A comedic sensibility is something that you either have or you don’t.  At first glance, there was nothing about Jason that suggested he even had a sense of humor.  Once filming started, nothing that we were shown looked all that promising.  The film’s trailer felt more frantic than anything else and I slowly found myself dreading the prospect of sitting through The Leisure Class.

But sit through it I did and … well, it was bad.  Unfortunately, it really wasn’t bad enough to be enjoyable.  Instead, it was just a bland misfire.  If the film was interesting, it was because I related each scene to what I had previously seen on Project Greenlight.  Wow, I thought, Effie sure was mad when they were shooting this scene.  A few minutes later: Is this the scene that Jason was worried would be underlit?  And then later: This is the scene where Bruce Davison wasn’t sure whether he should say pricks or dicks!  I’m glad they were able to make a final decision…

As for the film itself — well, how do you describe the plot of a film that really didn’t seem to have a storyline?  Charles (Ed Weeks) is actually William, a British con artist.  He is about to marry Fiona (Bridget Regan), the daughter of Sen. Langston (Bruce Davison).  At first, Charles was just planning on stealing Langston’s money but now he’s fallen in love with Fiona.  The day before the wedding, Charles’s alcoholic brother, Leonard (Tom Bell), shows up at the Langston estate.  He pretends to be Charles’s best friend.  And then, Leonard gets drunk and encourages a bunch of teenagers to skinny dip.  And then there’s the car accident.  (This is the big stunt that Jason was so concerned with.)  And then Sen. Langston gets drunk and there’s this amazingly ugly scene where he says a lot of nasty things to his wife and his daughters.  And then Langston nearly murders Charles and Leonard but Fiona ends up pulling a gun on him.  And then the next morning, Leonard draws on Langston’s face.  There’s also a prostitute, named Carla (Christina Lakin), who shows up for no reason but at least she gets a few funny lines.  The film doesn’t add up too much, with none of the characters or their actions making much sense.  The script feels like a first draft and, even at only 80 minutes, the movie seems to be way too long.

The overriding theme of Project Greenlight‘s fourth season has been that Jason has gotten nearly everything that he wanted while shooting his film.  Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that this season was pretty much edited to cast Jason in as negative a light as possible.  (Otherwise, the HBO execs would have to take responsibility of the train wreck that is The Leisure Class.)  Still, it’s impossible to deny that Jason fought a lot of battles and that none of them seem to have made much difference as far as the end product is concerned.

Jason fought to shoot The Leisure Class on film, as opposed to going digital.  He even turned down extra shooting days so that he could get film.  But visually, The Leisure Class is flat and boring.  It may have been shot on film but it still looks like a single camera sitcom.  (In fact, it’s hard not to feel that the film could have been improved if it had taken an Office or Modern Family mockumentary approach.  At least that way, the characters could have explained their often confusing motivation.)

Jason got the cast that he wanted but that cast is let down by a poorly conceived script.  All of the characters are so one-dimensional that it’s doubtful that there’s much anyone in the cast could have done to make them interesting.  I like both Ed Weeks and Tom Bell but the film let both of them down.  Meanwhile, Bruce Davison is reduced to bellowing out his lines.

Jason fought to find the perfect location and spent a lot of time talking about how the Langston estate was almost as important as the characters.  The house looks gorgeous but the film is directed in such a haphazard manner that you never really get to appreciate it.  For a director who spent so much time obsessing over minutiae, Jason’s film is unique for its total lack of interesting detail.

Let’s not forget — when the season began, Jason was selected to direct a broad comedy called Not Another Pretty Woman.  Jason is the one who suggested making The Leisure Class instead.  That said, I have a hard time believing, as some have suggested on twitter, that Not Another Pretty Woman would have been much of an improvement.

Ultimately, Jason seems to be an okay technical director.  He knows how to light a scene.  He understands the importance of moving the camera.  I imagine he could probably spend hours explaining why he chose to use a certain type of lens.  Unfortunately, there’s not a single scene in The Leisure Class that feels spontaneous.  There’s no humanity to the characters.  It’s a cold movie that feels more like a student film than anything else.

From what I’ve read, it appears that there will be at least one more season of Project Greenlight.  And I’m happy to hear that because the show makes for good drama.  I just wish that it would occasionally make for a good movie.