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Adam Goldberg
Giovanni Ribisi, Franka Potente, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Coughlan, Christina Ricci, Jason Lee
Writing Credits:
Adrian Butchart, Adam Goldberg

Ribisi stars as Gray Evans, a hip movie star who - between endless loft parties and frolics with his wife Mia Lang (Potente) - worries he is being stalked. Grappling with dreams about an ex-girlfriend (played by Christina Ricci) and obsessed with a young filmmaker, John (Joshua Jackson), who reminds Gray of his pre-fame self, he hires an investigator (Jared Harris) to help calm his insecurities. After setting out his stall, Goldberg subsequently takes his audience on a disquieting thrill-ride through Gray's life, beautifully capturing the preternatural world he inhabits. As Gray becomes more and more obsessed with John and John's girlfriend, Jane (Marisa Coughlan), Goldberg steers the movie into bizzaro-world, with hints of work by directors such as David Lynch coming thick and fast. While Goldberg's film playfully struggles to reflect the dizzy confusion of its chief protagonist, story threads are left dangling, and the audience are made to do a lot of work; but it's a rewarding experience for those who are willing to delve into this excellent meditation on celebrity culture at the dawn of the 21st century.

Box Office:
$1.65 million.
Opening Weekend
$2.580 thousand on 1 screen.
Domestic Gross
$2.580 thousand on 1 screen.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 3/28/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Adam Goldberg and Actor Giovanni Ribisi
• Music Gallery
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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I Love Your Work (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 21, 2006)

When a movie sits on the shelf for years before it finally gets released, will it inevitably stink? No, but that sure ain’t a good sign. 2003’s I Love Your Work didn’t debut in a non-festival setting until the end of 2005, and even then it played on only one screen. That makes it basically one step up from “direct to video” status, which is all this clunker deserves.

Work looks at movie star Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi). Despite his fame, his life starts to disintegrate. His marriage with Mia (Franka Potente) goes downhill, partially because he believes she’s cheating on him – with Elvis Costello, of all people. His mental state also heads south. Gray thinks he sees his fantasy girl (Christina Ricci) everywhere, and he also worries about stalkers at every turn. The film follows all his problems and how he deals with them as he becomes more and more nuts.

Maybe I shouldn’t watch trailers. I saw a promo for Work on another DVD and thought it looked interesting. A cast full of prominent folks didn’t hurt.

Co-written and directed by actor Adam Goldberg – probably best remembered as Pvt. Mellish in Saving Private Ryan - Work shouts “vanity project”. I find it difficult to regard a flick as willfully, self-consciously jagged and obtuse in any other way. The movie obsesses with itself and doesn’t view any sense of a world outside of itself. It tries so hard to impress with its quirkiness and skewed viewpoint that it turns into little more than a pointless exercise in nothing.

As much as I love Madonna’s music, I tire of the inevitable “I wanted to be a star but wish I hadn’t” song on each album. That’s how Work feels to me, as it presents a boo-hoo look at stardom. At least I can excuse Madonna’s whining because it’s Madonna; there’s no bigger star on the planet. From Goldberg, however, it seems an awful stretch to take on this theme.

The absurdly stylized nature of the production harms it as well. We get a lot of annoying trickery where the movie tries to fool us between real life and acting. Just when we think we’re watching an actual scene – bang! We learn that it’s all part of a movie set. This technique works marginally well once but gets tedious quickly.

The characters come across as self-indulgent and nothing more. We never get the slightest feel for them and they go nowhere. Perhaps this is intended as a sly statement on the emptiness of the average Hollywood star, which means it seems like sour grapes from Goldberg, an actor who never made a jump to prominence.

Ribisi is probably the perfect actor for such an annoying film. Goldberg’s Private Ryan co-star, I liked Ribisi once upon a time, but via insanely mannered and irritating performances in The Other Sister and his recurring role on Friends, he became one of my least favorite actors. He doesn’t grate as much here, but he relies more on quirks and mannerisms than depth and thought to carry him here.

That makes perfect sense in this shallow, overtly awkward and disjointed film. I Love Your Work wears all its pretensions on its sleeve and never manages to engage the viewer. Frankly, it just gave me a headache.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

I Love Your Work appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Actually, some oddness came with the aspect ratio. The first three minutes, 35 seconds – through the introduction of the movie’s title – and its end credits were 2.35:1, while the rest of it ran at 1.78:1.

That led me to believe that the flick was shot 2.35:1 but cropped to 1.78:1 for the DVD. I couldn’t find any documented evidence of that anywhere, but I couldn’t think of many other explanations for the change of ratio. Since I saw some obvious panning at times, it made sense. Oddly, the framing on the top sometimes seemed off as well. Most of the shots were appropriate, but some cut off heads for no apparent reason. Some of this may have stemmed from sloppy cinematography.

Even without the odd dimensions, the DVD offered a lackluster transfer. Sharpness varied. Wide and medium shots tended to look soft and indistinct. Otherwise the movie was fairly concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed a bit of edge enhancement. Source flaws also created distraction, as I noticed a little too much grain as well as sporadic examples of specks and marks. This was a moderately messy image for something so new.

Colors depended on the style of each scene, though the tones usually appeared decent to good. Reds tended to be too thick, though, and some of the other hues were a bit messy. Blacks seemed acceptably deep, while shadows were fairly well-defined. This was an inconsistent image with too many problems to rate above a “C”.

Like the movie itself, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of I Love Your Work was too self-conscious to totally succeed. It featured a surprisingly active soundfield, and I saw that as both a positive and a negative. On the good side, the audio was more involving than anticipated. It used all five channels throughout the movie and created a lively soundscape.

However, this became a distraction at times. The sound designers went a little nuts at times and featured audio from the surrounds and sides that detracted instead of added to the experience. The elements occasionally seemed too “speaker-specific” as well; sometimes they were awkwardly focused in one spot. Despite these periodic nuisances, I thought the scope of the mix was fairly impressive.

Only a few issues with audio quality emerged. Speech occasionally sounded a little edgy, but the dialogue was usually concise and crisp. Music showed nice life and definition, and effects were also vivid. Those elements seemed clean and accurate. This mix could be a bit too pushy for its own good, but it usually was satisfying.

As we move to the extras, the main attraction comes from an audio commentary with writer/director Adam Goldberg and actor Giovanni Ribisi. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. Don’t expect many pearls of wisdom here, as the commentary offers little substance.

The pair talk about locations, the cast, a few influences and inspirations, and various production elements. Much of the time they just joke with each other, and they prefer to keep an ironic distance from the purpose of the commentary. They speak of the film in affected pretentious tones but don’t tell us a lot.

Actually, Ribisi occasionally tries to get Goldberg to take things more seriously, but the director quickly subverts those attempts. This leaves us with lots of dead air and very little useful material. It’s a consistently weak commentary.

A Music Gallery lets us hear a few isolated selections from the score. We get “Opening Title – Full Orchestra”, “Theme – John/Jane Montage”, “Best of Sunday” and “Stopwatch”. This feature does nothing for me, but perhaps others will like it.

The DVD includes a trailer for Work and some other ads. At the start of the disc, we get promos for Fateless and The Aristocrats. These also appear in a Trailer Gallery along with clips for Dallas 362 and Second Best.

Pretentious and annoying, I Love Your Work believes it has a lot to say. Unfortunately, it’s as shallow as its main character, and the film does little more than provoke annoyance and disdain. The DVD features mediocre visuals with busy but generally good audio. Its short roster of extras adds little to the package. I’d avoid this bad movie and lackluster DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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