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This So-Called Disaster back to product details

Leaves me feeling sleepy and a little but numb.
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written by Hirsuited April 12, 2008 - 1:54 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
I felt compelled to rent This So-Called Disaster after watching Almereyda's interesting William Eggleston in the Real World. The Eggleston docu functions neatly and best as a travelogue, it nearly has to, Eggleston doesn't explain his thoughts and utterly defies stereotyping. It is interesting because it shows him in his environment ("the real world"), near his family and close friends, sitting around, drinking, listening to Roy Orbison.

This So-Called Disaster takes a different approach. Observing the rehearsal of Sam Shepard's play and interviewing the cast, crew and playwright, it focuses on all involved as much as the playwright. Shepard is open about his creative process and what inspires it, Nick Nolte describes how he became an actor, and there is a surprising intimacy between the cast during rehearsal. It is probably as close you can get (without actual involvement) to seeing how and why a plays happen.

For both, despite having as subject something so ostensibly humanistic as the "authentic individual", there is something cold to them. The men in Shepard's play, as with the men in This So-Called Disaster and In the Real World, all seem to have some hard, impenetrable, center. Amazingly, so do the movies, which are as interesting as they are cold (and admittedly a little boring).

I'm mostly in agreement with telltale, that This So-Called Disaster is primarily of interest to people involved-in or fans-of theatre. Both movies are interesting but a bit boring,not terribly approchable, and may be worth a rental for interested fans of Almereyda's or documentary watchers.

Family Film--Shepard Style
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written by talltale December 15, 2004 - 1:00 PM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Three reasons to see THIS SO-CALLED DISASTER: if you've worked in live theater, written plays (or directed them) or simply appreciate the work of playwright Sam Shepard. Oh, yeah--there's a fourth reason: the chance to eavesdrop on the big-name cast (Penn, Nolte, Harrelson & company) as they rehearse, share some interesting private moments and finally get ready to perform a new Shepard play back in 2000. The play itself looks like just another dose of Sam's later father/brother stuff (most of which I've found pretty tiresome). The movie, however, is surprisingly interesting. Director Michael Almereyda combines footage of rehearsals, off-the-cuff interviews with the cast and Shepard, old photos, and even interviews-of-interviews by the press--all of which achieves a kind of insulated world where theatre and acting combine with memories of family. Shepard and Nolte prove the most interesting here; the former's reminiscences of his alcoholic father are strange and moving, and the latter's experience of his mom's death in the midst of his own health problems and promise to the playwright make for a bizarre tale. Cheech Marin appears to be a terrific stage actor, too--who knew? I actually enjoyed this odd film more than anything I've seen of Shepard's since his early days of writing funny/bizarre plays, rather than the big-themed later work that borders on boring. This probably has more to do with director Almereyda--who adds another feather to his moviemaking cap with this curious amalgamation.

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(Average 5.15)
20 Votes
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