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Phone Booth
Nicht Auflegen!

USA 2002
produced by
Gil Netter, David Zucker, Ted Kurdyla (executive) for 20th Century Fox
directed by Joel Schumacher
starring Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Radha Mitchell, Katie Holmes, Paula Jai Parker, Arian Waring Ash, Tia Texada, John Enos III, Richard T.Jones, Keith Nobbs, Dell Yont, James MacDonald, Josh Pais, Yorgo Constantine, Colin Patrick Lynch, Troy Gilbert, richard Paradise, Seth William Meier, Svetlana Efremova, Billy Erb, Domenick Lombardozzi, Maile Flanagan, Tom Reynolds, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Karara Muhoro, Zidu Chen, Shu Lan Tuan, Dean Cochran, Amy Kowallis, Tory Kittles, Bruce Roberts, Tyree Michel Simpson, Dean Tarrolly, Mary Randle, Mia Cottet, Ben Foster, Chris Huvane, Kim Posnett
written by Larry Cohen, music by Harry Gregson-Williams, special effects by E=mc², visual effects by Asylum VFX, Custom Film Effects

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Arrogant publicist Stu (Colin Farrell) is on the cellphone pretty much 24/7 ... except when he's talking to aspiring actress Pam (Katie Holmes), whom he wants to get into bed but who he has to call from a public phone booth because his wife (Radha Mitchell) is going through hie phonebills.

One day, while in his usual phone booth in busy 8th Avenue, Manhattan, he gets a pizza delivered, but chases the pizza guy (Dell Yount) away - and suddenly he finds himself on the phone with some madman who starts to threaten him, proves to him that he has a gun pointed directly at him ... and ultimately shoots a pimp (John Enos III) who's getting on Stu's nerves. Thing is, Stu has no idea where the shot has come from, and all eye witnesses figure it was he who shot the pimp ... and before you know it, the police is here, wanting to arrest Stu - but Stu has to stay on the phone, otherwise he will be shot, and Captain Ed (Forest Whitaker) tries everything in the book to get Stu out of the booth, and only eventually, he realizes there's something more to the whole thing than just a killer hiding in a phone booth.

Meanwhile, the caller/stranger/killer makes Stu confess all his wrongdoings, all his lies to all of the involved - including his wife, Pam, his assistant (Keith Nobbs) - right there on the spot, which is of course transmitted live on television ... but somehow, Stu also figures a way to get a message to his wife that helps the police track down the caller - but then he makes the mistake of gloating, giving the police raid away to the caller, and finally he gives himself up to the police - but is shot down and injured by an overzealous sharpshooter.

The police eventually find the caller, who turns out to be the pizza guy from the gebinning, who has slit his own wrists ... but it's not that simple, before Stu is driven off by ambulance, a man sits down next to him and urges him to be good for the rest of his life ... a man who turns out to be the caller of course (and who's played by Kiefer Sutherland).

 

Allegedly, Larry Cohen has written Phone Booth decades ago for Alfred Hitchcock, but that deal never came into being, and in the early 2000's, screenwriter Larry Cohen (again allegedly) tried to get the thing off the ground with himself in the directing chair - but bailed out when big name actors like Mel Gibson and Colin Farrell showed interest in the project (as he correctly figured, big names equal loss of control). Direction was finally handed over to Hollywood hack Joel Schumacher, who does a decent job - but nothing at all to write home about. The one main problem with the film is actually Colin Farrell, the Hollywood big-name - who's actually not good enough an actor to carry the film, he does prove his lack of talent in several scenes.

The other problem is that Schumacher was either not able to see the satirical aspects of the film or simply didn't care about them, as he turned a film with enormous possibilities (and if you are familiar with screenwriter Cohen, you know about his talent for satire) into a straight-forward thriller. And then there's the scene in which Colin Farrell confesses all his sins (and I don't know if that one was in Cohen's original script) - and all I can say, man that's cheesy, it really destroys much of the buildup of the film, which is a downright shame, period.

Apart from that, who decided that Farrell didn't really have an affair with Katie Holmes but only fantasized about it? Somehow the film would have packed much more of a punch if they really had an affair ... but then again, that would have meant Farrell is an asshole, wouldn't it - and we don't want the film's lead to be an asshole, do we?

Now wait a minute, the whole fucking point of the movie is that he in fact is an asshole, and even though his adversary is a madman, he is still paying for his own sins. Am I not getting the film right here, or was Cohen failing to see the point of the script he has written, or was it some ignorant Hollywood bigwigs suggesting some minor changes? I can't honestly tell, but you might guess what I'm guessing.

All that aside, for a mainstream thriller, Phone Booth is ok, no big deal, but then what do you expect from a mainstream thriller - it's just no film to get excited about, either.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD