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Tyler

At Any Price

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I've liked Bahrani's previous films--Goodbye Solo, Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, even Plastic Bag--so I was surprised At Any Price had been completely off my radar until this Film School Rejects review from Tribeca (it apparently played at some 2012 festivals, too):

At Any Price is truly a baffling film. At many times I found myself laughing, I found my mouth agape, I buried my head in my hands… And I hardly think that was the filmmaker’s intended audience reaction. It’s almost hard to believe that someone actually wrote this thing, that the film is even for real. This is especially surprising since the film’s writer/director, Ramin Bahrani (who co-scripted with Hallie Elizabeth Newton), has several good indie films under his belt, including Goodbye Solo and Man Push Cart. The film throws logic and caution to the wind, features an insanely campy performance from Dennis Quaid, flip-flops each character’s motivation with abandon, has zero regard for morality and never ceases to have a cheese factor that explodes through the roof.

Yikes. Maybe there's a reason I hadn't heard of it.

On the other hand, Ebert really liked it.

This is a brave, layered film that challenges the wisdom of victory at any price. Both of its central characters would slip easily into conventional plot formulas, but Bahrani looks deeply into their souls and finds so much more. He finds a father and a son who are both challenged to question the assumptions on which they have based their lives. Yet this is not a "message picture," its theme is never spelled out, and it communicates by the most effective means, life experience. It evokes elements of "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Death of a Salesman," and how it moves from one to the other is subtly persuasive.
Edited by Tyler

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No one here has seen this yet? I don't think I've seen any posted reviews from us about the film. I'm curious to know that the A&F crowd, specifically, thinks of the film. (I haven't seen it.)

Look like it'll disappear quickly, so if someone wants to make the case that I need to get to this one in the theater, please do so.

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No one here has seen this yet? I don't think I've seen any posted reviews from us about the film. I'm curious to know that the A&F crowd, specifically, thinks of the film. (I haven't seen it.)

Look like it'll disappear quickly, so if someone wants to make the case that I need to get to this one in the theater, please do so.

My review is the second capsule here (I saw it right after a Festival Best contender, so be aware of that):

If you only showed me the first half-hour of this film and stopped, I wouldn’t have been inclined to watch the rest of it … at any price … an Iowa farmer reads aloud a postcard from his son about climbing South America’s tallest mountain, and he stumbles over the pronunciation of “Mount Aconcagua.” Yuk yuk yuk. Isn’t the people in Hickville so stooooopid and uncultured. ... But as is my custom, I stuck around and I’m glad I did, as AT ANY PRICE becomes something more as it accretes detail and develops the threads of what seemed for a while like a scattershot script. Though it’s an original script, AT ANY PRICE becomes unashamedly novelistic (if you take that as a criticism, stay away) with twists and turns that make into it a kind of “farm noir.” Test film for this film – did you like IN THE BEDROOM? Or MYSTIC RIVER – one element in particular from that film came from nowhere here, yet felt as utterly right as it did in the Eastwood. ... AT ANY PRICE is a rare film that is about both realizing your dreams and being content with not realizing your dreams, in the same person. About nostalgia and false nostalgia, within the same environment.
Edited by vjmorton

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Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers.

A very spoiler-filled podcast.

Did I mention there were spoilers?

Skinny: Todd liked it a bit more than I did. Marginal thumbs up for some good acting (Kim Dickens!), but I thought there was too much movie jammed in and it could have stood to be either more focused or 20 minutes longer.

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Thanks, Ken. Guess I never posted here that I saw the film a couple of weeks ago and liked that it "went dark," even though I thought the film strained credulity at times. And yet, the story was more interesting for those strains.

I was quite impressed with Efron in the movie. I'm on the fence about Quaid's performance, and probably won't have more clarity until I see the film again. Hard to believe that I wouldn't think highly of his performance, which is central to the film, but I found myself going back-and-forth on Quaid's performance as I watched the movie, FWIW.

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