Tag: paulo costanzo

Everything’s Gone Green


Everything’s Gone Green (2006)
★ / ★★★★

Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) was dumped by his girlfriend because she felt she needed to revamp her life starting with getting rid of things that made her unhappy. The very same day, Ryan quits his job because his superior has stumbled across his poetry which he has foolishly saved in the company computer. His boss recommends that Ryan sees a counselor due to some of the more disturbing elements of the poems.

A couple of days later, while on his way for a job interview, Ryan meets Ming (Steph Song), a Chinese woman in her thirties with a boyfriend, Bryce (JR Bourne), who makes a living through scams. Ming is fully aware of Bryce’ illegal activities. Because Ryan hopes to impress Ming by having money, wearing expensive clothes, and owning a nice car, he agrees to be a part of Bryce’ money laundering scheme.

Written by Douglas Coupland, “Everything’s Gone Green” might have worked better as novel due to its many subplots but it does not work as a movie because not only are the subplots very undeveloped, they are not particularly funny. In fact, a few of its Asian stereotypes are actually quite offensive.

Perhaps the film’s lackadaisical nature, despite being a comedy, can be attributed to the characters’ lack of inner monologues. Aside from Bryce who seems like the kind of person who will not think twice to allow someone else to get hurt for the sake of putting additional money to his bank account, the movie is almost boring because the rest of the characters are all so safe and nice. Even though Ryan eventually begins to question whether making a quick buck is worth all the trouble he has come across since, the conflict unfolds without intensity, almost lethargically.

There are times when one is led to believe that the screenplay will finally allow Ryan to get his comeuppance, only to shy away in the last second. For example, when our protagonist enters his work place and his co-workers gather around his computer, we assume that his illicit activities are out in the open. Instead, the screenplay goes for a cheesy, would-be amusing angle. It turns out that Marcia (Tara Wilson), a girl so impressed with Ryan’s car that the two decide to get intimate, works for a pornographic website.

I understood that there is supposed to be a recurring theme about people in Ryan’s life feeling like they must turn to schemes in order to get by financially or be reminded, through excitement and risk, that life is worth living. But does it constantly need to inch toward real insight only to run away from it when the mood hints at a more serious overtone? Because I argue that living is also about consequences. Since the material consistently ignores the issue of taking real responsibilities, it remains in La La Land, creating a stagnancy in its pacing and already thin plot.

Furthermore, I had the impression that the filmmakers do not know how to present or execute different styles of comedy and connect them in such a way that the film functions as a mirror of our own insecurities and things we are currently working on to better ourselves. “Everything’s Gone Green,” directed by Paul Fox, is arguably targeted toward late twenty- or early thirty-somethings, an age range where society expects a person to have a career. But since the material fails to focus on the real issues as well as the small victories that come across as genuine within that age group, then what is the movie trying to say exactly?

Splinter


Splinter (2008)
★★★ / ★★★★

I was surprised by the quality of this little horror film. Directed by Toby Wilkins, “Splinter” is a story about a couple going camping on their anniversary (Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) and are ambushed by an escaped convict (Shea Whigham) and his girlfriend (Rachel Kerbs). Initially enemies, the two couples had to team up right away after running over a creature that feeds off human and animal blood. Not to mention that it can take over its host after it feeds off the host’s blood. I was horrified because of the way the body moved when the creature was controlling its victim’s bodies. It reminded me of the possessed girl in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and those rabid zombies in “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later.” Even though this is a small film, it was surprising how much gore it has. It goes to show that a script with smarts and a creative director can go a long way. I was also impressed by the acting. Even though I liked the “good guys” right away because they were cute and funny together, I also found myself feeling for the “bad guys” because of their circumstance. Another thing I liked about this film was that it didn’t even bother to explain where the creature came from. Most creature-feature films fall for the trap of having to elucidate why and how a monster came into existence. I was glad that this one did not. If one is a fan of horror movies where the characters are trapped in one place (in this case, in a gas station), the characters are smart but not above being silly, and there’s a plethora of effective thrills, “Splinter” is definitely the one to see. I couldn’t help but shudder (and maybe even squeal a bit) during some of the most intense scenes.