Friday, May 15, 2009

The Big Shot-Caller

Opening this weekend: The Big Shot-Caller, directed by Marlene Rhein

In The Big Shot-Caller, David Rhein, the younger brother of the movie’s writer and director, Marlene Rhein, plays Jamie, a shy, friendless accountant living in Manhattan. Jamie suffers from an ocular disorder that renders him severely nearsighted; a symptom is the way his eyes continually dart from side to side like those of a hunted animal. Security guards patrolling the entrances to nightclubs he visits, hoping to meet girls and indulge his passion for salsa dancing, assume that he must be high and refuse to admit him. Early in the movie an omniscient, grandfatherly narrator, whose voice, booming intermittently over the soundtrack, propels the story forward, informs us that as a boy Jamie watched Strictly Ballroom 97 times. He dreamed of becoming a salsa dancer but was shamed out of it by his father, Rudy (Robert Costanzo), a boorish, poker-playing slob who cracks feng shui jokes about the arrangement of his lawn furniture. Fired from his job, his heart broken by a party-loving Dominican woman who drops him after his old-fashioned courtship proceeds at a snail’s pace, Jamie is forced to move in with his estranged older sister, Lianne (Ms. Rhein). As alienated in her own way as Jamie, she regales him with tough self-help bromides and inspirational gobbledygook in which God is “the big shot-caller.” Jamie convinces Lianne to be his salsa dancing partner, and together they venture into the night. — Stephen Holden, The New York Times

The New York Times review isn't much longer than this synopsis; the film's website is here.

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