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"Charlotte Sometimes"

Directed by Eric Byler.
Written by Eric Byler and Jeff Liu.
Starring Michael Idemoto, Eugenia Yuan and Jacqueline Kim.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  5/13/03 


As always, suggestions are welcome, and my friend Marci “Jiggity” Giang forwarded me a link to check out “Charlotte Sometimes”--a low-budget indie--when it opened here in San Francisco.  It opened this past weekend and, as always, I “hung out.”

Well, Marci, good call.  “Charlotte Sometimes” is a romance-drama about a mechanic named Michael (Michael Idemoto) that works in LA and is as close to a loner as one could possibly get.  He spends most of his time at home alone, he eats dinners with his aunt, he works on cars and his botanical backyard garden.  He owns a home in the LA area where he rents out a room to a couple, Lori (Eugenia Yuan) and Justin (Matt Westmore), and whenever they have sex at night, Michael takes a walk or goes to the local club to get away from all of the ruckus.  Or is it that he is interested in Lori in more than just their platonic relationship?  One night when running away from the bed squeaking downstairs, he meets a writer named Darcy (Jacqueline Kim, the only recognizable face in this cast) at the club and strikes up a relationship that drives the rest of the film.  Michael fancies Darcy, but he also a little thing for Lori; Justin and Lori are quite serious, but he keeps eyeing up Darcy like Thanksgiving dinner.

Coming on the heels of “Better Luck Tomorrow”, it is cool seeing more films with Asian leads that seem integrated into an American lifestyle while still keeping their roots.  At the same time, it is very cool to see these Asian characters go through situations as just people, not ASIAN people.  That is what ruined some films like “My Big Fat Shitty Ass Movie” by trying to rub the Greek-ness of some of the characters into my skull when I could really give a flying fuck.  Michael, Lori and Darcy are just people, disillusioned by the issues going on around them and going through the motions of trying to figure out whether a relationship is a viable option or not.  Idemoto makes for an interesting lead--he is silent for many of his scenes, but his eyes really convey a sadness even if he professes early in the film that “It is okay to be alone.”  His socially-awkward courting of Darcy resonated with me, another in a long list of nice guys that has exactly zero “game”, and I enjoyed the way he went back and forth the first time the twosome met because his confidence is a little shaky.  The role of Darcy is the lynchpin for everything else, and the actions of this character are very intriguing in the middle of the film when it is discovered that Darcy and Lori may not be telling us everything; there is some dialogue that I am sure I have not heard in a film before when it comes to frank talk about relationships.

The film’s problems are enough to drop it a grade; the score is quite an oddball, a character into itself that seems better suited for another film, not this one.  The Justin character seemed like an afterthought to writer/director Eric Byler, whereas I felt like there was something more to explore as to his motivations for staying so long with Lori.  Although I credit an idea like one where a male lead turns down sex with a hot woman who is offering it because he wants to “take time to get to know you better”, I simply can’t sit there and believe it, but I was forced to in one early scene.  Do those things happen?  I guess in the movies they do.  The ending was also a little bit lacking for me--but, I can’t really tell you why unless you check out the film.

Good stuff.  In limited release in Chicago and San Francisco right now, but it could be opening more places soon.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09