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Just 45 Minutes From Broadway

'For all actors and actresses . . . and the families that have refused to disown them" isn't exactly a confidence-inspiring epigraph, but it is fairly accurate in foretelling exactly what Just 45 Minutes From Broadway is up to. By actors, for actors, Henry Jaglom's film features a group of capital-T Thespians lounging about in and around a country house while alternating between waxing poetic (and nostalgic) about their noble profession, quoting vaunted actors, and airing their collective grievances. In the more straightforward scenes, the actors'-showcase angle is occasionally successful; the film is nothing if not performance driven when the performances themselves are actually the focus. (David Proval, perhaps best-known as Richie Aprile in The Sopranos, stands out. Judd Nelson also has his moments.) But in an overlong sequence shot to resemble an actual play, the acting feels so forced, the staging so wooden, that it's impossible to be fully engaged in what's actually going on. The actual story is, if not quite rote, certainly nothing new, and there's many theatrically and meta-inclined moments with long, uninterrupted shots and handheld camerawork. Altogether, it comes to resemble theater filmed by Paul Greengrass. Doubtless a good deal of this is intentional homage to that old hag the stage, but, while intentionality counts for something, it's easily subsumed by how intrinsically un-cinematic this all is.

 
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