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Carter (2009)

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Overall Rating 74%
Overall Rating
Ranked #7,517
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When Jebadiah was 17 he vowed to kill himself when he turned 25 if he wasn't married by the time he was 23. This film takes place three days before his 25th birthday. Jeb is unmarried but in love with Carter. --Official Site
Julia Porter Howe
Julia Porter Howe
Mark Robert Ryan
Mark Robert Ryan
Richard Buonagurio
Richard Buonagurio
Dee Herlihy
Dee Herlihy
Ryan Balas
Ryan Balas
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Review by Chad
Added: April 29, 2009
Last week, I took a peek at Cookies & Cream and found that I downright loved the film even though it wasn't exactly the type of movie that I generally seek out. That, in my opinion, is the surest sign of a competent filmmaker: somebody who can make something so good that even non-fans can't help but applaud their work. That film was created under the banner of "One Way Or Another Productions", a group of filmmakers who I had never heard of prior to opening my mailbox and seeing three of their movies eagerly awaiting my viewing and reviewing time. After seeing how much I enjoyed the first offering, I couldn't wait to dive into the next film and see how well it measured up. Unfortunately, it didn't measure up at all, and in fact, it was the polar opposite.

As far as the storyline goes, I'm not even going to write out my own synopsis for reasons that I'll explain later in the review. Instead, I'll copy the brief synopsis found on the official site and let that speak for itself. Copied verbatim with the exception of my insertion of the cast names:

When Jebadiah (Mark Robert Ryan) was 17 he vowed to kill himself when he turned 25 if he wasn't married by the time he was 23. This film takes place three days before his 25th birthday. Jeb is unmarried but in love with Carter (Julia Porter Howe).

That's a little light on details, but it sounds like something that could be interesting... right? Unfortunately, that's not the case, as none of this is actually explained in the film. The DVD cover tells us that "In three days, Jebadiah Smith is going to kill himself", and if it wasn't for that tagline, I wouldn't even have known that suicide was the topic at hand. Sure, it's hinted at when Jeb tells his girlfriend that he might be "going away" soon and I suppose that it was hinted at in another scene where he tells her that "It's sort of like leaving the conversation after you've told the funniest joke", but as far as actually presenting the topic to those of us watching at home, the film completely fails. Just to add further confusion to the mix, I didn't even know about the above vow until I checked out the official site for the film after the credits had already rolled. I'm all for a filmmaker handling topics like this with subtlety, but I shouldn't have to read an outline of the plot written by the same filmmakers to know what in the hell is going on.

Perhaps I just missed the explanation. After all, there were large pieces of dialogue that I simply couldn't hear thanks to piss-poor audio work: my television's volume level goes up to ninety-nine, and even at that level, I still couldn't hear what was being said in what appeared to be key scenes. I can't say this with any certainty as I obviously wasn't on the set, but it sounded like the audio was recorded on a tape recorder... a tape recorder sitting in a car... a car that was parked back at the sound man's house... a house that was in the next town over. To compare, I typically watch movies with that volume level set to around twenty, so not being able to make out the dialogue at five times that level should show that some serious work was needed with the audio here.

It's also possible that I missed the explanation thanks to my having fast-forwarded through chunks of the film. I rarely do that even during the most wretched of films, but I had to make an exception here thanks to scenes that simply went nowhere. Showing the leading man deep in thought is one thing, but accomplishing this by showing him sitting in a park eating a sandwich for five minutes straight? It gets tedious, especially when the only "action" comes courtesy of a fly buzzing around his face. Introducing us to his girlfriend is perfectly reasonable, but doing so by showing us ten minutes of her waking up, laying in bed, and getting dressed? I see that every morning when the woman of my own house gets up. These are but two examples of how a film that had fifteen minutes of material was stretched out to eighty minutes, so it's not much of a stretch to say that the movie is comparable to some of Warhol's films in that we're supposed to be impressed with mundane slices of life where nothing out of the ordinary happens. If you think that Andy was a genius for creating an eight-hour film consisting of nothing but a single shot of the Empire State Building, you'll find a lot to love here.

I tried to find something redeeming in this release, but to be perfectly honest, I just couldn't do it. Well, I thought that the scene where Jeb discusses bizarre pornography with a coworker was amusing, but that was a three-minute scene in an eighty-minute movie. Other than that one scene, I really can't think of anything that I truly enjoyed about this film, so I believe that a 1/10 is in order.
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