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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Learning Curve
The Learning Curve
MGM // R // April 23, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 18, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"The Learning Curve" is an instance of a movie with an idea that's not nearly enough to sustain an entire, feature-length picture. The film revolves around Paul (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Georgia (Monet Mazur), who meet one night when he saves her from being attacked. The attacker drops a large amount of money after running away when Paul threatened to call the cops. While the two are originally shaken, both realize they can turn this into a con game.

Already stuck with two increasingly unlikable heroes who are carrying on an increasingly unlikely romance, the movie starts to become more and more ludicrious. Paul and Georgia have low-wage jobs and, since he wants to be able to "give her everything she wants", the two start carrying on increasingly bigger scams.

Of course, they run into the wrong guy. When trying to do a scam on the highway, they run into record producer Marshal (Vincent Ventresca), who is an even bigger con artist then they are. Believing they've run into an opportunity, they start pulling jobs for Marshal, who wants to forcably evict a series of stores from their land so that he can build a mall - a task that he finds even more difficult once City Hall decides that they're going to do everything they can not to approve plans.

First-time writer/director Eric Schwab's "Curve" is an instance of a "Where Do I Begin?" film. There's a long list of faults with the film, but the lead one would certainly be that I didn't care. There's little character development and little chemistry between the two leads. The film starts to become repetitive and slow as much of the film is cliched and stale - at nearly two hours, the film seems endless. The performances don't help things, either: Mazur is the only performer who achives something slightly more than one-dimensional.

The film does have a nice sense of style, but the fact that the material is so weak pulls the carpet out from the entire film. Maybe Schwab has a bit of a future as a director, but he should probably stick to directing and not writing.


The DVD

VIDEO: While MGM has presented "The Learning Curve" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is pretty inconsistent, going from looking sparkling to looking rather dismal. Sharpness and detail, like about everything else, vary throughout, as the picture looks murky and muddy in some darker scenes, while bright, outdoor sequences looked sharp and well-defined.

Occasional softness was not the presentation's only shortfall; the print was not in entirely crisp and clean condition, either. While print wear wasn't a huge distraction, I did notice a little more in the way of specks and marks than I'd expected from a pretty new film. Some mild grain also infreqently appeared throughout the movie, but it was most noticable in some of the early scenes. Minor edge enhancement was also occasionally noticable, as was very slight pixelation in one or two instances.

Colors were respectably presented, appearing natural and accurate. Overall, this is an okay transfer which veers back-and-forth between looking great and disapointing.

SOUND: "Learning Curve" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Aside from a couple of scenes towards the end, the film's audio remains completely in the front speakers. Audio quality was fairly unexceptional, with little range and dialogue that was delivered with satisfactory clarity.

MENUS: Slightly animated main menu. Not that I was too bothered, but MGM should really have used the more stylish poster art than the bland cover art they've provided here.

EXTRAS: Nothing.

Final Thoughts: A depressing, slow and not particularly clever noir, I didn't find much to like about "Learning Curve". MGM's DVD provides zero supplements, but decent audio/video. Not recommended.
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