Dreama Walker

The Kitchen

Featuring a very talented cast of comedic talents (including Compliance‘s Dreama Walker in a refreshingly breezy role), Ishai Setton‘s The Kitchen takes the party-where-everything-goes-wrong to a new level. It’s Jennifer’s (Laura Prepon) thirtieth birthday, and the last thing she wants to celebrate is her life, considering she’s saddled with a scheming ex-boyfriend (Bryan Greenberg), a sister who can’t manage to filter any of her thoughts and opinions (Walker), and a best friend who might be throwing her said party out of more than just the goodness of his heart (Matt Bush). Set entirely inside Jennifer’s kitchen, The Kitchen looks to be a clever, tightly-wound, and amusing comedy of manners (or, non-manners in some cases). In fact, our own dear leader Neil Miller loved the film when he saw it back in October at the Austin Film Festival, writing that the “entire film works on the economics of scale, in which a great deal of energy is created by leaving us, the audience, in one room of the house. We see characters and stories move in and out, leave and return and ultimately develop into a satisfying final act. It sounds frantic, and it can be at first, but it ultimately gives The Kitchen a good pulse.” He also wrote that “Prepon and her co-stars give this story of love, loss, unrequited love, party shenanigans and hurt feelings a great deal of charm and verve, reminiscent of  ’90s ensemble comedies like Empire Records. Clever and fun, The Kitchen sets itself apart from other indie comedies by […]

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Editor’s note: With Sundance’s most controversial film hitting theaters today, here is a re-run of our Compliance review from that festival, originally published on January 25. It seems that there is always at least one film at Sundance that stirs up some sort of controversy – the kind the leads to people running out of screenings or ends with people screaming at post-movie question-and-answer sessions. In 2011, it was Lucky McKee’s The Woman, this year, it’s undoubtedly Craig Zobel‘s Compliance. Much like McKee was taken to task about presumed misogyny in his film, Zobel endured post-screenings Q&As in which the film was damned as being exploitative. In those cases, however, the hecklers were quite wrong. Compliance is an exceedingly well-made interpersonal drama that hinges on the limits (and, oftentimes, depths) of human nature and people’s response to certain carefully calibrated psychological tricks.

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Craig Zobel Interview

Compliance caused quite a stir at this year’s Sundance. Many labeled the film exploitative, finding its subject matter too much to bare. There were also other viewers, such as our Kate Erbland, who perfectly described the film as “an exceedingly well-made interpersonal drama that hinges on the limits (and, oftentimes, depths) of human nature and people’s response to certain carefully calibrated psychological tricks.” It’s a fine line between exploitation and conveying the harsh reality of the true story, but that’s not the sole challenge director Craig Zobel faced. A majority of Compliance features one of the most dullest acts to watch on screen: characters talking on the phone. There’s rarely anything cinematic about it, but Zobel managed to make every phone call ooze with dread, which probably helped him land a pretty nice gig with Tobey Maguire… Here’s what Compliance director Craig Zobel had to say about the film’s exploration of authority, never giving clear answers for the truly terrible decisions made in the film, and making one long phone call between a psycho and an average joe manager exciting:

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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