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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Crime + Punishment In Suburbia
Crime + Punishment In Suburbia
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Crime + Punishment" teaches me that another addition to the worst of the year can always be seen right before the year closes. Most compared the film to "American Beauty", and if this picture hadn't been filmed before that one, calling it a "rip off" would certainly be in order. "Beauty" at least had emotional highs and lows, fully-written characters. "Crime" is just one, big, mopey 98 minute low. If the film doesn't sound familiar, it was only released a couple of months ago - but racked up only $26,394 in limited (very limited) engagements.

Starring Monica Keena ("Dawson's Creek") as the awfully named Roseanne Skolnick, the movie revolves around a similarly dark section of suburbia. Her boyfriend (played by James DeBello, who was funny in "Detroit Rock City") is the football star, who keeps chasing away her stalker. Yes, this film involves another loner, played by Vincent Kartheiser, whose character is also named Vincent. He takes pictures of Roseanne from afar and gives her odd warnings.

Things aren't going terribly well in Roseanne's household, either. Her mother (Ellen Barkin) is having an affair with a local bartender(Jeffrey Wright, who is wasted here) and her father(Michael Ironside) is a drunk who's close to snapping. When he begins to take his anger out on Roseanne, she enlists her boyfriend to help take him out of the picutre. The film's last half is a series of events that continue the film's series of unrealistic events, complete with a trial. This is a film that even has chapter titles. No, I'm not kidding.

Several errors ruin the film, although there are some positive aspects of it. Although the material that Keena is given isn't realistic, engaging or the least bit entertaining, she is an actress who has presence and at least tries to make something out of next to nothing. The negatives are almost too lengthy to mention; the acting elsewhere is dull and lifeless; the film's music-video look calls too much attention to itself, trying to get an "edge" the film doesn't otherwise have; the pacing is tediously slow, and not from minute one are we given a reason to care about the events - it's so mopey and consistently "surface-dreary" that it sinks under its own weight.

I'm interested to see what Keena will do next, but "Crime and Punishment", a film that sat on the shelves for a while, should certainly have stayed there - along with some of MGM's other recent releases, such as "Autumn In New York".


The DVD

VIDEO: MGM's presentation of "Crime and Punishment" isn't perfect - although the visuals are too much for their own good at times, they do translate well to MGM's effort here. Sharpness and detail, especially during some of the bright, outdoor scenes, is excellent. A bit of softness enters the picture during some of the dimly lit sequences, but this is a minor complaint.

Flaws are more apparent than I would like to see in a newer movie like this one. Print flaws are frequently visible; slight speckles, marks and scratches become somewhat distracting at times. Edge enhancement and some light pixelation is briefly visable at times, as well. Colors are, at least, bold, rich and nicely saturated. Overall though, this is a very average presentation that's not going to win any awards. The presentation is anamorphic and in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. A pan&scan version is on the flip side.

SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is really nothing out of the ordinary. Music and dialogue are the two main features of the presentation, and surround use is light, if any. Music is really what little the surrounds offer. Dialogue seemed slightly edgy, but otherwise fine. The film offers little from the audio.

MENUS:: Menus are awfully bland, with large type for the selections going across the screen and slight pictures from the film in the background.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Rob Schmidt and actor Michael Ironside. The two contribute a commentary that's rather informative at times as to how they accomplished certain visual bits and overcame production obstacles, but there's quite a few pauses of silence and the two sound less than energetic about discussing the film.

Final Thoughts: "Crime and Punishment in Suburbia" should be skipped.

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