Starting Out in the Evening is all over the map.
There are some great scenes, but much of the film is filled with the type of trite melodrama you would find in a daytime soap opera. Some of the actors rise far above the material, most notably Frank Langella, who continues to surprise me as an actor. His character is written rather one-dimensionally, but he manages to infuse layers into his performance that make a cranky old writer interesting to watch.
I can't say the same for his screen partner Lauren Ambrose, the annoying and cloying redhead who made me stop watching SIX FEET UNDER. She maintains the single dimension written into her character, and her big moment near the end of the film elicits a laugh in the wrong place (although the writer is as much to blame as she is).
Typically I love Lily Taylor, but her entire subplot could easily have been excised completely from the movie, or at most could have consisted of a handful of scenes. The film isn't that long, but it certainly feels like it's a lot longer.
Film Independent this year has decided to screen their nominees via the Internet. The wave of the future is definitely not here yet. In the past, most of their nominees were distributed to members via Netflix, which allowed viewers to see and hear DVD quality with great convenience.
The streaming video looks and sounds like crap. It's an insult to have a cinematography award and then stream the movie for a resolution appropriate for a cell phone. I watched a movie on the plane a few days ago that sounded 100 times better than this crappy download. In addition, the film keeps hiccuping, and there is no easy mechanism for stopping and restarting the movie if you need to take a break. Even if you note that you stopped at 70 minutes, there's no easy way to get back to that point, you have to guess where it is along a very short unlabeled timeline.
Add to that the fact that none of my computers are set up to comfortably watch a 2-hour film, and it's a just a huge inconvenience to work this way. I'll try to see as many nominees as possible on the big screen, the way they were meant to be seen! Unfortunately, not all of the films are available for screenings.