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By Looking At Her" at amazon.com
Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 109 minutes
Starring Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart,
Amy Brenneman, Holly Hunter, Kathy Baker, Valeria Golino,
Matt Craven, Gregory Hines
Written and Directed by Rodrigo Garcia
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, French Stereo Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital
5.1, English Closed Captions, French Subtitles, Spanish
Subtitles, Scene Selections (32 Scenes)
It's always such a shame when great movies, great movies
that are meant to reach out to people, to inspire people and
give hope to people simply can't for one reason or another.
It's always such a shame when movies that are meant to
become classics, movies that touch the heart and movies that
are meant to become part people's lives will never be able
to do any of those things. "Things You Can Tell Just By
Looking At Her" is one of these movies, and if you have the
chance to see it, you better not miss it.
Those really into film may have heard about and know the
somewhat extensive history behind it. This movie debuted at
a few film festivals (Sundance most notably) and scored some
rave reviews, praising the subject matter, raw acting and
sensibility the movie had. Unfortuantley, as months went by,
it seemed doubtful the movie would find its way to theaters
in the United States. While it never did find its way there,
the movie was not totally lost. It debuted on the pay cable
channel Showtime, and as of writing this, it even coughed up
an Emmy nomination for Holly Hunter. This was a movie meant
to be seen in theaters and was meant to reach a lot of
"Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her" is an
anthology film of sorts about women, and all the stories are
somehow loosely connected. The first story, called "This Is
Dr. Keener" has Glenn Close as a doctor who is a bit sick of
taking care of her elderly and ill mother. As she consults a
tarot card reader (Calista Flockhart), Dr. Keener has to
realize her life needs more to make it better.
The second story, "Fantasies About Rebecca", has Holly
Hunter as a bank manager obviously named Rebecca who thinks
her life is going well, until she sees herself in a homeless
woman who keeps bothering and pestering her. From there, she
does get pregnant from her boyfriend (Gregory Hines) who
never seems to be around. Hunter knows things to make things
richer are missing.
The third story, and my favorite one, is entitled
"Someone For Rose." It follows a single mother named Rose
(Kathy Baker), who writes children's books and takes care of
her sexually active fifteen year-old son. A dwarf named
Albert moves across the street from them, and while there is
some apprehension, the two get to know one another and Rose
starts to get very interested.
"Goodnight Lily, Goodnight Christine" has the tarot card
leader Christine from before, that being Calista Flockhart,
facing that her lesbian lover Lily is dying from cancer. As
Christine takes care of her, she must also come to gripes
with her depression from all of it.
Finally, "Love Waits For Kathy" has a police detective
named Kathy (Amy Brenneman) who is really lonely as she does
her work and help her blind sister Carol (Cameron Diaz) out.
As Carol starts dating and pokes fun at her sister, Kathy
soon starts to realize how lonely she really is.
I'm a big sucker for movies that intertwine as I've said
before, and I really enjoyed that here. The connections are
there, but it's not overdone. Still, what makes this movie
so great is cinematographer Rodrigo Garcia's writing and
directing debut. He must really know women, because he
really taps into their thoughts here. His key thing here is
about women who are looking to find their own sort-of
fulfillment to make their lives better. Each woman has
something to face and come to terms with, and all the
stories are represented with that theme here brilliantly.
Not to mention Garcia's symbolisms that also intertwine
nicely as well.
Garcia's writing skills are really fantastic. The stories
are downright interesting and really creative, as he creates
well-developed characters in such short periods of time.
They are really, really believable. The dialogue flows well,
the emotions are real and everything just seems natural.
Garcia's directing skills on the other hand are very good
for a first-time director. While some of the stuff is a bit
plan and boring as visuals, he does establish some very nice
shots, good cuts and gives this story a very good flow.
While I wished other stories did last a little longer,
things here are pretty damn even. But with it, I wish there
was more insight onto the issues the women have to face.
Still, it's all a very solid debut.
Yet what makes it all the more beautiful is the
incredible ensemble Garcia has put together. Everyone in
this movie is so damn brilliant. Glenn Close is a bit stern
and comes across well in her scenes, while Calista Flockhart
is pretty dazzling as Christine, not to mention her
monologues in her story. Amy Brenneman fits the bill
perfectly as the lonely detective, while Cameron Diaz does a
heartlifiting and excellent job as the blind Carol... you
feel that Diaz is actually this young blind woman. But the
real standouts in this movie, at least I felt, were Kathy
Baker and Holly Hunter. Baker shows off some great
vulnerable moments as a woman just looking for some love
where she least expects to find it, her curiousity and
friendly nature come to represent her. It works well that
way. And Hunter... man, like usual she gives an amazing
performance with a woman mixed-up in herself and needs where
she must realize she's at a place where a lot of women yearn
to be, yet she doesn't have what other women have. There's
just something about her and the character that click
together well since there's so much in the story and
characters there. Truly one of the best acting ensembles
I've seen in a long time, as it is filled with so many great
I find it to be a travesty that this movie and other
great independent films will never reach a wide audience
because distributors are too afraid that the subject matter
is too taboo and that they simply can't make any money off
of them, that it's more trouble to distribute than it's
worth. Even though I can't make a difference, I urge studios
greatly to not be afraid. Movies like this can really make
an impact on a big audience if they are carefully marketed
and promoted. "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her"
is a great feat in moviemaking with such great stories and
characters, I really find it sad how this movie will never
be seen by its key audience. Please, please check it out.
People will be quick to dismiss this one as a chick flick,
but it really isn't. This movie can appeal to both sexes as
it entertains really well, not to mention how sensetive it
comes across it. Again... it's a must see.
The film comes in two aspect ratios on this DVD edition,
1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame. 1.85:1
on one side, 1.33:1 on the other. The transfers could have
been better, I was expecting a bit better in a way, but not
in other ways considering this movie doesn't have such a
hardcore audience. Besides the point, colors are well
saturated and fleshtones are decent. Sometimes this transfer
looks pretty sharp, other times it looks a bit murky and
dark. There is grain on the image, while a good amount of
blemishes, pieces of dirt, blotches, specks and scratches
come across throughout the movie. Black levels and detail
are pretty decent as well. There is also some slight
shimmering at times. I would have liked better, but I've
The English 5.1 Dolby Digital is nothing great, and I'm
not surprised. This movie is really, and I mean really,
dialogue driven. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, it's
not distorted, muffled or overpowered by other sounds in any
way. As far surrounds and other sounds, there's not much.
Fidelity is very good and the contemporary score brings life
to the channels. Background noises such as cars whizzing by
on streets sound pretty good. .1 LFE extension is pretty
weak, as I did expect. This mix fits the movie well, and
while it does try to bring more life to it, it doesn't
succeed so well. A Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track and a
French stereo surround track is also included, plus English
closed captions, French subtiles and Spanish subtitles.
Incredibly disappointing. The Theatrical Trailer
is on the DVD, and interesting enough, it's in full frame on
the full frame side and anamorphic widescreen on the
anamorphic widescreen size. It is a little bit of ironic to
have that here considering this movie never got theatrical
distribution in the United States. An audio commentary from
Garcia and interviews with the leading ladies on the movie's
themes would have been appreciated.
"Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her" is a real
gem, and a movie that is meant to be seen but will be
ingored by a mass audience. If you see it gathering dust on
a video or DVD shelf, please don't let it. Do check it out
and enjoy one fine film. It's a shame this DVD does not
feature any worthwhile supplements, but the retail price is
good and the movie is worth owning.
(4.5/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)