Off the Boulevard

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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“It’s the only business I know of where you have to work . . . HARD in order to work.” – Troy Duffy, Creator of “The Boondock Saints”

Swift shot:  What does it mean to be an independent artist?  This is the question posed throughout the film as we follow the hero’s path through the dark forest of their own struggles to “make it”.  Using classic examples of the works of Joseph Campbell – the same works that inspired George Lucas to refine his original draft of Star Wars, Jeff Santo expresses his thesis through his own struggle and through the struggle of his peers.  If movies about film are your forte, this is certainly one you can’t avoid, especially if you are studying film or music.  But, if you are looking for a great story, you’ll have to settle for dalliances of each character’s struggle.  In truth, each character showcased could have their own documentary, or a few of the more compelling characters at any rate.

Dissecting the characters seems unfair, as a critic, because I am not reviewing a movie, I am reviewing lives – who the hell can do that?  We have all made choices in life that put us where we are, and some alliances that have cost us dearly, or some that we have benefited from greatly.  But ultimately it is those that dare try that ultimately fail . . . or succeed, but you will never know if you let others dictate your independence.  Each character embodies that core theme in the film, they all do what they want and won’t let some stuffed-shirt, dickhead tell them any different.  Isn’t that what real art is all about, anyway, being true to yourself, or at least your message?

With any documentary, a REAL documentary, not a propaganda film like any of the Michael Moore . . . offerings (yes, that was a fat joke, Moore supporters, be damned), it’s impossible to rate the actors, because they aren’t acting, they are being.  “Off the Boulevard” is helmed by Writer/Director Jeff Santo, who has an interesting legacy that is touched on in the film and offers some of the more compelling arguments for the hero’s struggle.  He is closely companioned by the bearded, Boston menace of Boondock Saints fame, Troy Duffy – whose quote above more than resembles his character.

Troy has fought the system and managed to not only survive, but has such a huge cult-following, and he being so young, has only more great things to share with his flock (yes, that was a religious pun, keep up).  Then we meet Sanel, a Bosnian War Refugee who literally was an actor, in real life, to MAINTAIN HIS LIFE!  Think about that at your next “How to develop a character” seminar.  I don’t mean he worked at the local Bosnian play-house, he had to convince people, through deceit, each day, to not kill him.  No take-twos there, My Friend.

To add a little comedy relief to the whole thing, Santo grabbed the incredibly insane stand-up comedian, Bob Rubin, whose entire routine is based on, if you can’t get my jokes, go fuck yourself – – – essentially, he is so fast and furious with his delivery that even the ATF can’t track his mind.  Fans of The Boondock Saints II will recognize him immediately as Gorgeous George. And, fans of both Boondocks films will recognize the maddening Rocco, who is a steady hand in the documentary, never really shifting gears at any stage of his journey – but, always bringing his A-game when it matters . . . on screen, when they say action!

Rounding out the “cast” are two musicians, from opposite musical spectrums, but still on the same overall wavelength – rock and roller, Keith Jackson who manages a rock n roll lounge in Arizona and leads the Glass Heroes band.  He had some good lessons to offer anyone worried about copyright infringement, hint, that means film/music students alike should pay attention to his story.  But, the final heroic struggler was the one that I was rooting for the hardest, Nick Nicholson, who is a country singer, surrounded by a sea of naysayers and half-hearted supporters . . . his art finally makes it to the right ears, and maybe you have heard his song on the radio.  If you haven’t, I suspect you might could, real soon.

Incidentally, how I heard about the film, mirrors the film itself – and the whole iratefilms crew could easily fill in for the “characters” in the story, because we all have “real life” occupations that detract from our “art” as well.  In fact, after screening this documentary, I was reminded of all the work that we have all put into the site to make it what it is today – we all have the struggle, which makes the hero’s path, worthy of praise.  Eddie Vedder is one of those interviewed in the film – he sits in a lush setting, talking about fame, and while I am no longer a Pearl Jam fan, I was intrigued by his interviews the most – because he recognizes that his struggle for fame was a pittance compared to other artists.  He almost sounds sad that he didn’t have to experience the pain of failure . . . almost.  Because, let’s face it, when you “make it” – the goal isn’t about money, it’s about getting your art out there to the world, or at least that is what drives the seven men of “Off the Boulevard”.

If you are an aspiring musician or film-maker, in any capacity, this is a must own documentary.  Watch it once as a fan, then watch it as a student, and hopefully you will learn something from each struggle.


3 Responses to “Off the Boulevard”

  1. Doug Flint Says:

    This film (Off The Boulevard) should be requiered viewing for any and all preformimg arts student at "ANY" level !

  2. RickSwift Says:

    Doug; concur, with the exception of mimes – they are terrible people.

  3. Jim carrey Says:

    Jim carrey…

    […]Off the Boulevard – South Florida Movie Reviews by I Rate Films[…]…

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