"Startup.com" and Visions Bistro
Directed by Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 6/5/01
This review is two-fold: a quick review of
the new indie documentary "Startup.com" and a quick review of the
theater that is one of the "cool" places to check out a movie here
in the lovely DC area. Well, maybe lovely is kind of strong.
What a film. This documentary chronicles
the rise and fall (don't all dot coms rise and fall?) of the
Govworks.com company that was born in mid-year 1999, only to die 18
months later. Khalil (whose name I will intentionally butcher, as
many others do in the film) and Tom, best friends from high school,
decide to get together six other people to start the Govworks.com
site, which provides a way for consumers to interact with their
local government through paying their bills or taxes or whatever
online. Luckily, the film doesn't bog us down with technical
details, as it concentrates mostly on how the two men lead the
company through its startup phase, raising money through venture
capitalists, giving pep talks to employees, and growing the staff
from its original eight to over 250 employees.
The directors of the documentary--one of
whom lived with Khalil as a roommate when they got the idea for the
documentary--do a great job of giving the viewer access to some of
the backroom conversations that the two men have about everything,
from the company's pitchline to buying out the third founder of
Govworks, to the family life of Tom and his
almost-too-cute-to-believe daughter. Of course, when things start
to go south, they REALLY go south, and where many fictional movies
lose it during this part of the story (the "fall"--think the last
half of Scorsese's "Casino", and you have an idea of when good pets
go bad), "Startup.com" gets more interesting because all of it is
real-life. Granted, the film could have done a better job of
showing us how that 250-employee base gets whittled down to just 50
in six months, but that is getting picky.
A great film that, despite its dot com
nature, is oftentimes absolutely hilarious. You should check this
one out soon, especially if you are here in DC since it won't be at
Visions for too long. And, as part of a special screening that I
saw tonight, three staff members from the real Govworks.com spoke
about the film for about 20 minutes for the audience. Very
interesting commentary on how accurate the film really is (which is
to say, the directors hit a home run).
Rating: Opening Weekend
Sadly, the theater is not nearly as good as
the film I got to see tonight. More poorly designed than a route
from Baltimore to Seattle on Southwest Airlines, the layout is
atrocious. There is no box office; apparently, the other idiots
that run movie theaters don't know what they are doing! So, you
have to wait in the same line as the food lines (because, ahem, this
is a *bistro*, rebel scum) to get your ticket. This would be
perfect, if I was hungry. Normally, when I see a 9:45 film, I am
not, but I didn't major in Logic like these fools did.
Tonight, though, to sample the food, I went
ahead and ordered some pizza. And, although it had enough grease to
line my palette for the next four months, it was pretty tasty, and
the Coke was some good shit. Mmmm. The popcorn tasted good and
featured some of that good movie butter that you can't ever seem to
get your hands on in the store. Again, some good shit. I would
have liked the food more, but I had to bend myself into a pretzel in
order to put two hands on the pizza.
The bathrooms are tight space-wise,
although, they do not feature Autoflush--or, as I like to call it,
AutoSplash--technology, which is a plus. The seats within the
theaters are real tight (not cool tight, like "That joint is
tight!")...I'm not fat (not phat, like "That joint was phat!"), but
my ass hit both armrests on the way down into the seat. Riddle me
that! The sound could use a little work; I'm not coming there to
see "Star Wars", but I struggled many times to hear what the
characters were saying.
And, with its location on Florida Avenue
near Dupont Circle, parking is TOUGH. You could ante up the $5 for
the garage, but you always want to at least look for a free spot
first...and, look, you will do. Metro to Dupont Circle--Q Street
exit--instead. Not an ideal place to see a film, but then again,
the films that Visions usually get offer the only chance to see that
particular film here in DC, so you usually have no choice. Try and
come on a Monday or Tuesday and you should be alright.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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