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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » You Are Here *
You Are Here *
Vanguard // R // March 19, 2002
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted April 22, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
It's recently come to my attention that some of the filmmakers whose work I've reviewed actually read this site (W.M. Pace, the director of Charming Billy sent me a very nice email in response to my thankfully positive review of his film.) Since Jeff Winner, director of You Are Here* states in his "director's introduction" that he doesn't want people to come up to him at a party and tell him that they don't like his movie, I only thought it fair to address this issue here. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and apologize in advance for any pain I cause.

There. I feel better now that I got that out in the open. As for Jeff Winner's You Are Here*, I didn't like it. Winner may think that he's offering insight into the minds and lives of disenchanted twenty-somethings with no professional prospects and no ambition, but really the film just drags on from one drawn out scene to the next. Extended sections feature the characters droning on and on about nothing. In fact, the opening voice-over already warns the audience that the film won't tell them anything that they don't already know. That's a bad sign. If you have nothing new to add, why make the movie at all?

Because Jeff belongs to the class of filmmakers that think they should make movies simply because they feel they deserve to, that's why. They grew up on Scorsese and Jarmusch and Spike and think that because they know screenplay format they oughta be in pictures. You Are Here* has a few interesting moments (mostly provided by the cast), but the vast majority of the running time is taken up by the angsty longings of spoiled, shallow characters.

Of the four main characters, Moe (Todd Peters) and Jason (Randall Jaynes) are boring and inert. The actors aren't bad but they have nothing to work with. Caroline Hall makes her Sallie a lively and attractive city gal, but her role is severely under utilized. Only Ajay Naidu (who also plays a worker bee in Office Space) gets to have any fun. His Sunjay may have an advanced degree in Political Science but his extreme lack of ambition has dropped him in the world of Xerox toner. There is something sweet and unpredictable about Naidu, whose on-screen persona is pretty unique. It may just be that by balancing the stereotypical cultural expectations of his family with his lack of drive (and eventual self-discovery) he crafts a deeper, more complex character, but his is the only one who registers.

Another big problem with You Are Here* is that it was shot on digital video. It looks awful. I understand that it's cheaper, but there has got to be a point where the lack of quality outweighs the savings. I mean, toilet paper is cheaper than turkey but if you try to eat a TP sandwich you end up with a mouth full of soggy spit balls. The images, drained of color and life, are so ugly that they help derail this already overly talky movie.

VIDEO:
The video, taken from digital video, is widescreen. The cinematography is ugly and drab and the images presented here have the gummy, grainy look of video that wasn't shot under the best circumstances and wasn't mastered for DVD with great skill or care.

AUDIO:
The audio is muddy and tough to decipher at times. No subtitles are available, which is a shame. The nonstop rock score gets a bit repetitive, but the audio mix on much of the music has punch and range that the film's diagetic mix wishes it had.

EXTRAS:
A director's statement features Jeff Winner shopping for toilet paper and has something of a surprise ending. It also features his plea for gentle handling from his critics. He also delivers a commentary track along with cohort Rick Barliss which is actually surprisingly interesting. The guys are easygoing and friendly and explain a lot about the process of making their film. While it's understandable that most people probably won't get deep enough into You are Here* to listen to the commentary, it's kind of rewarding for those that do.

A trailer and a photo gallery are also included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
There is nothing wrong with film hopefuls grabbing cameras and shooting their scripts. In fact, that willingness and ability to circumvent the Hollywood machine can yield great results. You Are Here*, however, adds little to the crowded film marketplace and serves only to highlight why so many indie films fail: They don't have a clear idea of the story they're telling.

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