The Low Life Reviews
The main characters of The Low Life are a collection of slackers, misfits, and also-rans who, upon finding that life (or Los Angeles) was not going to hand them their dreams on a silver platter, decide to settle for passionless, boring and unambitious existences. Would-be-writer John (Rory Cochrane) is emotionless and withdrawn, his friends complain like whining children, and his potential love interest can't or won't remove herself from an unending cycle of rich but creepy potential husbands whom she could never really love. Nearly everyone in the movie is self-absorbed to the point of near-blindness. And the one character who manages to stay unselfish and positive in the face of his own failures--John's roommate Andrew (Sean Astin)--is not only socially maladjusted to the point of annoying everyone, but is eventually killed in a random car wreck and mourned by all of three people, his parents and John.
There have been other movies that explore the hopeless grind of an unfulfilling life or the frustration of dreams that just won't come true, and been successful and popular in doing so. But most of those movies were either supposed to be funny (Office Space), redemptive (American Beauty), or both (Swingers). The Low Life had the benefit of a strong cast (Astin and Kyra Sedgewick are two bright spots), but its characters' blase negativity, bitter boredom, spoiled whining and unsatisfying routines end up making the audience almost as bored as they are.
If the cast had any dignity, they would go out and buy all the copies of this film and burn them along with Writer / Director George Hickenlooper and Writer John Enbom
was interested to see cuz i like off-beat movies. this was depressing and frustrating, however the acting was good
[b]Salton Sea (2002) - 6.4/10[/b]
Director - DJ Caruso
Starring - Val Kilmer, Peter Saarsgard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Cara Unger, Anthony Lapaglia, Doug Hutchison, Adam Goldberg.
Salton Sea somewhat successfully combines post noir and addiction (crystal meth) into one film. Val Kilmer stars as Danny Parker, a former trumpet player turned speed freak. His fall coincides with his wife's murder. He's out for revenge! He's also working undercover for two brutal narcotics officers (Lapaglia and Hutchison) who want him to help them nail a drug kingpin.
The film is flawed, but manages to keep your interest. The seedy drug underworld is effectively rendered and the the subplots mostly work. Val Kilmer is an underrated actor with an erratic career, but he does a nice job here. Vincent D'Onofrio is memorable (if not over-the-top) as the noseless drug kingpin. It may not be "Requiem For a Dream" meets "Memento" but at least it's not "Spun".
[b]The Lookout (2007) - 6.8/10[/b]
Director - Scott Frank
Starring - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher, Carla Gugino.
Chris Pratt (Gordon-Levitt) is a former high school hockey star who is in a tragic accident that leaves him with memory loss. Years later, due to his handicap, he is working a menial job as a night-time janitor at a bank. He rooms with the much older Jeff Daniels, who is blind. One night he runs into an old classmate (Matthew Goode) who unknowingly lures him into robbing the bank.
There are enough twists and turns to keep this film from falling into typical "crime thriller" territory. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a young actor to keep an eye on and Jeff Daniels is once again very solid. It's a small film, but worth a look.
[b]The Low Life (1995) - 6.3/10[/b]
Director - George Hickenlooper
Starring - Rory Cochrane, Kyra Sedgwick, Sean Astin, Ron Livingston, James LeGros, Christian Meoli, Sara Melson, JT Walsh, Renee Zellweger
This low-budget indie film hit a few indie festivals in 1995 and then disappeared. Many of it's young actors went on to bigger and better things.
The story, set in LA, focuses on a group of educated twentysomething slackers who kind of drift through life doing mundane jobs while worrying about their futures. The story centers on John (Rory Cochrane) a wannabe writer who ends up temping at a real estate office. His roommate (Sean Austin) is a nerd who loves painting Nazi figurines while listening to Journey. His love interest is Kyra Sedgwick who is into married men and prozac. Ron Livingston and Christian Meoli star as John's best friends. Yale graduates, they spend their days seperating credit card carbons and their nights drinking beer at the bar. It takes a tragedy to wake up John.
By no means is "Low Life" a great film but it is a pretty accurate document of twentysomething slackerdom in the 90's and surprisingly watchable considering not much happens. Rory Cochrane (best known as the stoner Slater in Dazed and Confused) never became a big star, but many of the actors in this film have had nice careers, most notably Renee Zellweger who has a funny cameo as a lesbian slam poet. Sean Astin, as Cochrane's nerdy roommate, is a scene stealer. We all knew this guy! It's more of a nostalgia piece than a great movie, and just another reminder of how much older I am getting. Hey Kyra....pass the prozac!