$pent (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Look at the cutesy title with the dollar sign in it. Do I need to say more?

This is a no-budget indie written and directed by Gil Cates, Jr. I'm not too sure how important it is to be the producer of a production with a zero budget, but he has that title as well.

Gil's father is a veteran TV and film director who is probably most famous for "I Never Sang for My Father", one of Gene Hackman's early star-making roles, which earned Hackman an Oscar nomination, one of three the film received. Cates Sr also directed "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams", another multiple Oscar nominee from the early 70's.

Cates Jr. hasn't been nominated yet, but he did produce the Oscar award show last year!


see the main commentary
He isn't going to get any closer to a statuette with this film, which is basically a soap opera expanded to feature length for your viewing convenience. A young couple has dependency issues. She needs to give up booze, he needs to kick gambling. His roommate is a closeted gay man who seems to be in love with him. When they have words, the sensitive roommate hangs himself. That may sound melodramatic to you, but I think Cates felt that a central "event" was necessary for the development of the script. If you take the hanging out of the movie, it would be fair to say that nothing happens at all. People talk, then different people talk. Pretty much everything is left hanging, except maybe the roommate, but I really didn't want to know any more about the characters anyway.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Full-screen format

  • full-length commentary by the writer/director

People say that the real difference between Hollywood productions and indies is the obvious lack of sincerity in the commercial Hollywood products. I guess that may be true. This film is sincere.

Which is a strong argument in favor of insincerity.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars ... total US gross was $5,000 on two screens. (I suppose it must have been three screens, since there were newspaper reviews in three cities - NY, LA, Austin)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D. Character-based melodrama. That's another phrase which means "soap opera". Attractive talking heads, neuroses, no forward movement.

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