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Talking To The Screen
15 Minutes :2001
This film easily passed under the radar of most of the populace.   I suppose I 
should have taken that as a hint.  

Previews tell of a critical look at the effect of the media in today's society 
especially in respect to sensationalism regarding crime and criminals.

It has a very decent cast.  Robert DeNiro plays Eddie Flemming, a cop with a 
tremendous tabloid following.  Ed Burns plays an arson investigator who fills 
out the other half of the cop pair requisite to a murder chase.  Avery Brooks 
from Star Trek: Voyager fame is DeNiro's de facto partner, easily and quickly 
eclipsed by Burns.  Kelsey Grammar is the host of the biggest tabloid news show 
in town, Top Story.  And just for some sexy flavor Kim Cattrell, now known for 
the role of slutty Samantha on 'Sex in the City', is a Top Story executive.  

For all this talent, I was surprised to see such lackluster performances.  
DeNiro is formulaic at best in this typical role for him.  Ed Burns has one 
scene where he flies off the handle. Clearly meant to show the depth of his 
character.  Not terrible, but too little too late, I already wanted him to die 
in a previous scene.  When the ringers let you down, the supporting roles have 
got to pull up the slack, Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov, as Emil and Oleg, the 
eastern Europeans on a killing spree in New York, do so wonderfully.  For all 
the failed depth of the other characters, these two craft wonderfully rich, 
living personas (personae).

The treatment this movie makes of its controversial message is muddled and 
distracted.  Is it commentary on the American legal system, news media, or 
culture as a whole? "It pays to be a killer in this country."  There were 
alternately tongue-in-cheek comedic scenes and very dark murders.  Most likely 
this was intentional, but its intentions were unclear.  The farce of the comedy 
wasn't heavy handed enough to counteract the darkness of the crimes.  I didn't 
find the two forms to be working in tandem, but misfiring like my '85 Saab's 

The climax was simply foolish.  Many scenes throughout (like a love subplot for 
DeNiro) could have been cut to provide time for a more patient ending.  As it 
is, the climax is rushed and rife with coincidences that are too well timed to 
be believable.

For an effective treatment of the American fascination with TV and the media 
check out Nicole Kidman in 'To Die For'.  I only wish the people who brought us 
'15 Minutes' did; they could have learned a thing or two.