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Case Number 27564: Small Claims Court

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Some Velvet Morning

Cinedigm // 2013 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 11th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum digs the Nancy Sinatra reference. How hip is that?

The Charge

Some velvet morning when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
and how she gave me life

—"Some Velvet Morning" by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra

The Case

What if I told you this was a movie written and directed by Neil LaBute, an American filmmaker and playwright famous for exploring the darkest parts of the battle between men and women? His earliest success was a play he turned into a film called In the Company of Men where two hideous misogynists torture a deaf woman. Then what if I told you the lead in this film was played by Stanley Tucci? He's an actor famous for playing extremes ever since he was noticed for his over the top masterful performance in Slaves of New York or worse his chilling turn in The Lovely Bones. The actress engaged with these two for this project is Alice Eve who Trekkies will know from Star Trek Into Darkness. What would you expect?

Basically Some Velvet Morning could easily be a play captured on film. It takes place on one set, and evolves in real time over the course of an hour and twenty minutes. We see Tucci enter the apartment of who we believe to be a past mistress. He states he has finally left his wife, and is now ready to reengage with her, compete with a set of heavy luggage. But there are wrinkles and some prove quite severe, such as a possible dalliance with the man's son. A dark history emerges, and it starts to take shape physically in the man. Violence, rape, and murder all seem possible at any given moment. None of this could end well, and the Neil LaBute name above the title referencing a Nancy Sinatra song offers little comfort.

This is a movie where words matter, and Tucci and Eve have to dance around the rhythms of the script to create something unsettling and unique. They do this, and offer a lot to the simple piece that goes in directions both expected and strange. It's an intimate work that showcases LaBute's strengths as a playwright over his skills as a filmmaker. Gender relations and masculinity are dissected here by the two leads, and we get a portrait of two damaged goods colliding into each other. There is screaming, crying, and a whole lot more.

This feature was originally produced for the festival circuit, and debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013. It has the look and feel of an indie shot on the fly, and the transfer is geared towards capturing that. It is quite bright surprisingly, almost overlit and oversaturated in color and ambiance. Reds pop, and blues look a little drained on purpose. Everything is clear, and detail is very nice thanks to some high definition digital cameras at work here. Sound is a five channel affair that truly only needs your front two speakers to deliver dialogue and music. The sole extra is a nice interview session with the director and the two actors who discuss the piece frankly.

Some Velvet Morning is an artsy piece that probably should have been a play somewhere before it was filmed. It's wonderfully acted, but the material is rough and more than a little misogynistic, as one would expect from LaBute who is the master of this brand of macho misbehavior. The final reveals undermine a good bit of what we see leading up to the climax, but, boy, is it a rough ride getting there. Some less adventurous viewers may find it torturous, but indie film fans who know what to expect will get a kick out of seeing Tucci and Eve go for everything without any apologies. The acting is very spot on. It's an exercise for two stars to bounce off each other in real time, and develop characters that may not be revealing everything until the very end.

The Verdict

Guilty of being a misogynistic examination of a relationship gone wrong, and a typical indie exercise in simple exploration of icky.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Cinedigm
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Interview


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• Official Site

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