Philosophy professor Walter Zarrow is wounded during a mugging. In an effort to escape he rings buzzers indiscriminately, waking Sam, a middle aged father of two having an affair in the city. Sam reluctantly answers Zarrow's pleas, and Zarrow loses consciousness in his arms. Through an exploration of why these men, along with the mugger, and an addict named Joe, come together, we explore New York City. The experience of Zarrow, Sam, Joe and Zarrow's assailant ripple quickly out to include the connected lives of a housewife struggling with alcoholism, a stoner teen desperate to lose his virginity, a brilliant but failed writer fighting addiction, two parents confronting the prospect of terminal illness, and a brilliant grad student who wounds herself to feel alive. Written by
Prof. Walter Zarrow:
But then, what do all these thinkers we've examined this semester have in common? If we truly explore to find a common thread? At the outset of a century that would constitute the bloodiest in human history. Along with scientific and technological advancements that would literally make us like Gods. Even as we began to dismantle the very meaning of God. They ask, what is a life? Does to live any longer have a how? Does it any longer have a why? Against a backdrop of industrialization, people ...
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Complex and sprawling drama with plenty of flawed characters
"Anesthesia" (2015 release; 90 min.) brings a sprawling story involving a seemingly unconnected group of people in New York. As the movie opens, we see an older guy walking home, buying flowers for someone (his wife we presume), and then just as he gets to his building, something terrible happens, as he is being buzzed in by a neighbor. The movie then goes back in time, and we get to know a slew of people, and how eventually it becomes clear that all of their lives are interconnected, directly or indirectly. At this point we're not event 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this movie is nothing short of being a labor of love from Tim Blake Nelson, who wrote, directed, co-produced and for good measure also stars as one of the characters in the large ensemble (playing the son of the older guy). Here Nelson (best known for his acting work) brings us a complicated character study of mostly flawed characters who are dealing with demons of various kinds. Because of the strong story-telling and plot-driven context, it would be inappropriate for me to say much more than that. The movie features a number of noteworthy performances, none more so than Sam "Law & Order" Waterston as the philosophy professor who is pondering his options as his long and distinguished academic career is winding down. What an acting talent this is, a crisp mid-70 years young when this was filmed. Kristen Stewart (as the troubled philosophy masters student) is 180 degrees away from her "Twilight" franchise role, and makes the most of her brief screen time in this. Canadian composer Jeff Danna provides a lovely orchestra score.
This movie was filmed in 2013, and premiered to positive acclaim at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, but it sank like a stone upon its brief theatrical release in early 2016 (it never even made it to my art-house theater here in Cincinnati). A darn shame. But the movie seems to have found a second wind with the subsequent VOD, TV and DVD releases. I happen to catch it on SHO the other night, and I absolutely loved this movie. No, this isn't a 'jolly good time' as the movie is serious and complicated, but I loved spending time with these characters and wasn't ready to say goodbye when the movie's end credits started rolling. "Anesthesia" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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