HTF REVIEW: "Roger Dodger" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 19, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Roger Dodger

    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 106 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.77:1)
    Subtitles: English and French

    The naked differences between men and women.


    Meet Roger (Campbell Scott), an advertising executive
    with a sharp tongue who has a knack for being able
    to read people. He's a man who believes he knows
    everything about manipulating women, bragging, "Words
    are my stock in trade." Hit or miss, Roger never
    gives up in his pursuit of women. He's a master
    womanizer of the Manhattan singles' scene. His
    technique is effective; he makes women feel terrible
    about themselves, makes them believe they are
    incomplete without him. The man can't be having
    too successful of a streak, however, as his boss
    (Isabella Rossellini) has just dumped him, leaving
    Roger particularly frustrated.


    Meet Roger's 16-year-old nephew, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg)
    a geeky but charismatic kid who wants Uncle Roger to
    teach him how to get chicks. If anyone can give him
    the advice to sow his youthful wild oats then it
    would be his wily and worldly Uncle Roger. Roger
    accepts the opportunity and immediately trots him
    out into the New York City night for a lesson in
    high-wire seduction.


    First stop is a singles bar where Roger and Nick
    meet Sophie (Jennifer Beals) and Andrea (Elizabeth
    Berkley), two very sexy ladies who seat themselves
    at their table and for the next hour discuss the
    philosophies of mating. Not so surprisingly, the
    women are charmed by young Nick's innocence and
    repulsed by his Uncle Roger, immediately seeing
    his idiocy.

    For the rest of the evening Uncle Nick treats his
    nephew to a long night of bar-hopping as well as
    a visit to a house of ill-repute, as the pure-hearted
    Nick learns much more than he ever wanted to know
    about the art of getting into trouble with the
    opposite sex.

    Directed by first-timer Dylan Kidd, Roger Dodger
    is mostly a shaky handheld camera annoyance, but
    Scott keeps the film afloat with well-flowing, snappy
    dialogue and strong performances from its leading
    actors. Campbell Scott is terrific as the manipulating,
    womanizing Roger. Jesse Eisenberg is the epitome of
    a normal testosterone driven male teenager (boy don't
    we all remember those days).

    How is the transfer?

    I'm a little at odds with the overall quality of
    this transfer. Most of the film takes place at
    night and in dark interior settings. The problem
    is, the film is just so overly dark that most of
    its detail easily gets lost in the blackness. When
    you combine this with the constant shake of the
    handheld camera, the film fails to become visually
    appealing. Colors seem to be vibrant and well
    represented while picture sports just a hint of
    background grain. Not one of the best transfers
    I have seen, but it will do.


    I was most pleased with the film's lively 5.1 Dolby
    Digital mix that sounds wide open with excellent
    sound direction. Dialogue sits firmly in the center
    while the fronts provide ample sound support. The
    rears keep themselves busy throughout the film
    providing the much welcomed ambient sounds of party
    and nightclub crowds as well as background noises of
    Manhattan city traffic. It's a nice added touch that
    really helps with the film's story.

    Special Features


    There are two audio commentaries included
    on this DVD. The first is with writer/director
    Dylan Kidd and director of photography, Joaquín

    The second commentary is with director Dylan Kidd
    and cast members Campbell Scott and Jesse Eisenberg.
    This was the commentary track I chose to sample.
    Campbell sounds just as obnoxious as his on-screen
    character, and the entire group spend the entire
    time being more silly than really providing any
    in-depth information. Jumping around the various
    tracks i could hear the group talking about some
    of the deleted scenes and the fact that Campbell
    was such a habitual smoker that it had to be worked
    into the film as he couldn't film a scene without
    having a cigarette in hand.


    Director's preface to the DVD is a personal
    introduction by director Dylann Kidd who thanks us
    "geeks" for taking the time to look into this section
    in which he promises to be "a fllm school in a box."


    The composer and the mixer introduces us to
    Craig Wedren who talks about the process of writing
    music for a film that wasn't supposed to have any
    in the first place. The one scene that uses the
    highest concentration of music in the film is the
    brothel scene, and Wedren explains how he came up
    with the melody and the beat, only to throw it to
    his mixer who put together the final product.
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)

    The Producer spotlights Anne Chaisson, who
    talks about how she and Kidd met and shot a short
    film that won a few awards. They were to meet again
    when Chaisson read Kidd's Roger Dodger. Anne
    goes on to talk about her passions for Independent
    (length: approx. 3 minutes)


    The Executive Producer and the Director is
    a conversation between Kidd and executive producer
    George Van Buskirk. Buskirk talks about how he met
    the director and talks about some of the exciting
    unique approaches that were brought to this film
    through its characters and handheld camera photography.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)

    Explanation of a Scene: Opaline takes us to
    a bar that was closed while being put up for sale,
    which enabled the filmmakers the opportunity to
    spend several days lensing the lengthy scenes with
    Beals and Berkley. We hear from the film's casting
    director who talks about the prescreening audition
    process that most actors go through. Things get
    sort of lengthy as we hear from the Script Supervisor,
    Production Designer, Hair Stylist, Make-up Artist,
    Costume Designer and Art Director. Stick with it for
    as long as you possibly can.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)

    New York at Night: the Roger Dodger Walking Tour
    with Jesse Eisenberg
    is a total waste of everyone's
    time. It begins with what looks to be a walking
    tour of all the film's location spots in Manhattan,
    that is, until another actor appears on the scene
    and turns the entire bit into complete teenage
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)

    Deleted scene: The cafeteria was an additional
    sequence that was supposed to appear towards the
    beginning of the film to establish a sort of "before"
    and "after" presence. The clip is in unfinished
    form, runs just under three minutes, and can be
    viewed with or without optional commentary by the

    Player's Guide to Scoring with Women may
    not be as good as those mail-order books you have
    been eyeing. It's basically text of dialogue from
    the mouth of womanizer Roger Swanson.

    Finally, the film's original theatrical trailer
    is included here.

    Final Thoughts


    For the most part I enjoyed Roger Dodger mostly
    for its witty dialogue and perverse psychological
    observations. It's a hilarious look at the male ego
    at work in the singles scene.

    The never-so-reliable Artsian has given us a
    feature-enriched DVD with a rather decent (but dark)

    Worth a rental!

    Release Date: NOW

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    the 'bright' scenes look VERY good. The dark scenes weren't tackled properly - compression?

    sound is decent.
    movie is very 'heavy' in terms of high level sit down conversations, reminiscent of UWC days in Wales.

    worth a rental.
  3. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

    Jan 7, 2002
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    Thanks for your review Ron. I think this will be a blind buy for me since this is probably my favorite kind of movie.
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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  5. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    I didn't notice it being handheld, except for the brothel scene.

    at least it wasn't DV - can't stand it - ugly as.

    I'd call this intellectual - the scripted dialogue is amazing.
    miss those days - mental stimulation in a nutshell.
  6. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

    May 7, 2001
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  7. Aurel Savin

    Aurel Savin Supporting Actor

    Nov 15, 1998
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    I watched about a 1/3 of this last night (passed out) ... but I liked what I saw.

    Actually enjoy the "old indie film" look of the transfer. Reminded me of early 90's movie style .. when the indie scene was hot.

    Great snappy dialogue as well!
  8. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    'ugly as' is an expression - rhetorical.

    but if you must, say Personal velocity, Tadpole etc. almost every 2nd indie movie now. looks terrible.
  9. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    thanks for saying what you meant by that chris as i never heard that used like that myself.
  10. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    guess it's a 'down under' thing.

    like as in Clueless - "As if".

    thus "Ugly as".
  11. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

    Sep 14, 2001
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    The final scene in this film had me smiling from ear to ear.
  12. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

    May 1, 2000
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    I dunno... After reading the review and some comments, I went in with low expectations regarding picture quality.

    I actually thought it looked pretty good, for a relatively low budget film. And I thought the close-up shots were outstanding. No, the darkest shots did not have the quality of the dark shots in Blade II, but hey...
  13. Seymour Uranowitz

    Seymour Uranowitz Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 5, 1999
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    I remember thinking the image quality was pretty poor when I saw it in the theater, but I had no hesitation buying the DVD. This kind of film is about script and character rather than pristine visuals and I will continue to enjoy it. Also, the commentary with the director and the cinematographer is quite interesting.
  14. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
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  15. aldamon

    aldamon Second Unit

    Mar 26, 2002
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    Great film, but as reported, the transfer was annoyingly bad in the dark scenes.
  16. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Mar 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
    I don't have a particularly wonderful TV, but the transfer looked exactly how I remembered seeing the film in the theatre. Additionally, the sound was much improved, as it was an utterly muddy mess when I saw it (presumably due to a flaw at the theatre).

    FWIW, it was fun seeing the opening moments of the "Walking Tour" segment (which were the only worthwhile moments in the entire piece). The marquee shown is for Cinema Village, where I saw the film on December 6th. The piece was obviously shot during that same month, as the marquee advertises Russian Ark as coming on the 20th of that month. Indeed, a few moments later shows some spotlights being directed around the sky, and I recall wondering what was going on as I left school that evening (my roommate and I later determined that there was a film premiere going on nearby). I used to live on the same block as Cinema Village (although on the opposite side of it), and I still go to school across the street from it. It's nice to see a little theatre get some promotion, although my bad experience with their sound for Roger Dodger doesn't exactly make me jump for joy. Their screens are somewhat tiny (especially the one on which I saw Roger Dodger, which feels like an attic), but at least I hadn't experienced any sound problems there before.


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