Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

My Photo
Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Overnight DVD Review

I watched Roger Ebert's review of this documentary months ago, read his review online and patiently waited for the film to come to video. Now it has, and I have to confess that I'm rather disappointed.

It sounded rather tantalizing as Ebert summarized it. Overnight tells the story of Boston-born bouncer and bartender Troy Duffy, who, while working at a now defunct bar called J. Sloan's in West Hollywood, sold his first screenplay Boondock Saints to Miramax's Harvey Weinstein for $300,000 and also got signed as director for the film with a planned budget of $15 million. To sweeten the deal, Weinstein agreed to co-own J. Sloan's with Duffy and sign Duffy and his rock band to do the film's soundtrack. This sweetheart deal and Cinderella story soon turns sour. Weinstein drops the film and possibly blackballed Duffy in Hollywood. The film is eventually made cheaply in Canada and then never secures more than a token distribution (it is shown briefly in five theaters). Duffy and his band get a record deal, but the CD sells less than 1,000 copies in six months. Duffy's original contract gives him not one cent from the video release of his film.

Overnight was made by Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith, two of Duffy's former associates, who luckily started filming Duffy just as he got the movie deal and stayed on to keep tracking events even after Duffy shut them out of their original roles as managers of the band.

The problema with Overnight is that it is too schematic, focuses almost solely on Duffy, and fails to fill in the gaps in the story. We never see why Weinstein was so excited by Duffy's script, and it is unclear what chain of events caused Weinstein to drop the project. I had to read a review in Los Angeles CityBeat to discover that Duffy's disagreements over casting and a disastrous meeting with Ewan McGregor had something to do with it. The filmmakers should have interviewed other participants, but they never do. They simply go with the footage they took of Duffy as events unfold. No one later comments on or reflects on what happened. Perhaps they felt that the rags to riches to rags story and Duffy himself were enough to carry the film, but they aren't. Overnight is nearly all Duffy all the time and he gets monotonous fast. He thinks he's a worldbeater whose excessive behavior isn't a problem. As the record producer for Duffy's album says, "His opinion has been validated by success. He may feel that validates everything."

There's an interesting scene where Duffy talks to a group of film students at Boston University after his defeats and he seems to acknowledge that he's a beaten man as he dismisses the optimistic gloss one student puts on Duffy's experience. This isn't exactly a reflective moment, but it's what the film needed more of.

It might have been fascinating to see Duffy pop in at various point to comment on himself. But as the CityBeat review reports, "Montana and Smith last had contact with Duffy on June 30, 2000, when, Montana says, Duffy threatened him over the phone and demanded back the release he had signed. The filmmakers refused. 'We decided to cut off all communication with Troy, go underground, and edit the film,' says Smith."

Here's an interesting article by Sharon Waxman that casts Duffy in a more favorable light than the documentary.

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]