(es) wrote: Piled in with all of the gold that the indie genre brings year-to-year is the occasional swing and miss: enter St. John of Las Vegas.? Nothing about the movie is fun, enjoyable, entertaining. It may be easy to blame first time director Hue Rhodes, but most of St. John(TM)s? flaws lay in its overall structure. The characters are unlikeable, the oddballs aren(TM)t quirky and the story takes a one way trip to nowhere. It(TM)s easy to chalk St. John of Las Vegas? as the disappointment of 2009.It(TM)s hard to tell amidst all the mumble-jumble, but the plot of St. John of Las Vegas centers around John (Steve Buscemi), a down-on-his-luck former gambler who, upon asking his boss (Peter Dinklage) for a raise, gets teamed up with the mean-spirited Virgil (Romany Malco) to investigate a case of insurance fraud. Naturally, the trip turns into one big peculiar ride full of nonsense. Some of the quirky characters met along the way include a pair of nudists (led by Tim Blake Nelson), a wheelchair-bound stripper and a man in a suit that sets him ablaze.The essential component of success in a movie that attempts to be quirky, as St. John of Las Vegas? does, is the feeling of true oddity. In St. John(TM)s? case, every aspect of the movie, from the story to the characters, seemed forced. Honestly, the film is set up to be a ridiculous ride that ultimately makes John come to a realization about his life, but it just doesn(TM)t fit together properly. John(TM)s compulsive gambling has absolutely nothing to do with the adventure he takes with Virgil and the people he meets along the way serve basically no purpose. To make matters worse, these characters are also forgettable meaning that they lacked the sheer insanity to stick to the mind even if they(TM)re screen time was limited.While on lasting just over an hour and twenty-two minutes, St. John of Las Vegas? seems infinitely longer. Opting to go with a bunch of quick scenes as opposed to a few thought-provoking longer ones, it(TM)s hard to take anything out of most of the film and even more difficult to take in what(TM)s going on at a certain time. The narrative is split in three separate ways, the first being a dream sequence, the second being real time and the final, and largest chunk, is by way of flashback. Neither the dream sequences nor the real time scenes hold much value and are, to be blunt, misplaced. Both deal with John(TM)s struggles with lack and gambling, but it completely opposes what(TM)s happening in the flashback. John took the fraud job looking to make more money and prove himself to his boss. Instead of the quick fix, John is working his way up the totem pole. The flash forwards and dream sequences offer nothing of substance and almost seem to be trying to force the issue of a relapse for John.The actors gave it their best, but at times it seemed almost half-heartedly. As John, Buscemi isn(TM)t wandering too far away from the character he knows, yet his performance isn(TM)t enough to keep John from being unlikable. With no emotional connection to him or his problems, he gives of vibes of being pathetic in an almost creepy way. The rest of the characters aren(TM)t a treat either. Sarah Silverman(TM)s Jill is so obsessive with smiley faces and is so upbeat that it makes the viewer want nothing more to puke. Meanwhile, Malco(TM)s Virgil may be one of the easiest characters to dislike in cinema history. Far from his hilarious character in The 40 Year Old Virgin,? Malco tries to be humorous by being a cold SOB, which doesn(TM)t come close to working. Dinklage, like many times previously, may have been the best part of the film, but his lack of screen time undermines the performance. In layman(TM)s terms, St. John of Las Vegas? has a worthy cast, but poor writing that reflects badly upon them.As it attempts to feed off of obscurity that isn(TM)t there, St. John of Las Vegas? becomes less and less entertaining. Eventually, the viewer grows tired of the story, the characters and their shenanigans and becomes uninterested of what may come next. The cast is star-studded, but there is nothing they can do to save the nonsensical story or the shotty dialogue. Everything about St. John of Las Vegas? is forgettable and the real fraud may just be the story itself. Don(TM)t bother taking the time to dive into John(TM)s life, there(TM)s nothing remotely interesting you want to see, unless, of course, you want a look at Tim Blake Nelson(TM)s penis.
(jp) wrote: As odd, bizarre and fascinating as the man who inspired it. Ed Wood is one of the best films about film making ever made. It could have easily done a cheap deprecating trash piece on Ed Wood and his legacy. But rather it paints a heartfelt, funny and compelling story about a man desperate to be remembered as a director of the art of cinema. And to be fair that's exactly what he got, for better or worse.