Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
Now we’re talking. This is a cover that gives off that “I want to be a porno, but I’m not quite that naughty.” vibe. Always a nice touch. I like it. I have no idea what the film is about, or what to expect. Well, I can expect simulated sex and stuff like that, right? Hmmm, a cover that actually makes me feel like I’m about to watch something I shouldn’t tell my mom about, excellent. At nearly 40 years old I can use all the juicy little secrets I can manage to keep. It makes life more interesting. Whether or not this movie lives up to the cover’s promise of explicit behavior is one of those secrets 🙂

Now, after seeing the movie I wonder what the bejezuz were the cover designers thinking? I don’t think they watched the film. I’m actually sure they didn’t. Not to mention the menu is total crap. I think my eight year old nephew could make that menu it’s so basic and boring. It’s not vital that a menu be exciting, but it’s always nice to feel like they made some effort.

Extras & Features: 0/10
No extras. Wonderful. Don’t strain yourselves there at the DVD lab. We can just look at the menu and use our imaginations. Let’s hope the price reflects this subtraction of content.

The Movie: 8/10:
Being a fan of Project Greenlight I was curious to see what a “runner up” script had to offer. I must say I am impressed. I really enjoyed Speakeasy. It has a few obvious film school tricks up its sleeve, but to the point of distraction. There are tools, methods, techniques, etc. that students learn in film school that are often transparent when you have seen as many movies as people like me have. I’m not bragging, no no no. I would have to say that spending nearly a third of your life watching movies is not something most people should be envious of. Imagine the diseases I could have cured, the awards I could have won, the promotions I could have gotten, if only I had been more motivated in “real life”. Well, as it is I have spent a great deal of time watching movies and at this point I have figured out that I am always searching for those special ones that hit me like a brick wall. The ones that inspire me to sit through the next 100 offerings just in hopes of another triumphant film watching experience.

Speakeasy is not one of those life changing films, but it’s really good nonetheless. It’s got so much going for it. I especially love the story. A simple but heartfelt tale of a stale marriage, characters who have lost the magic in their lives and need to find someone to rescue them. I love the way the relationship between the strained couple never leads to a common movie ending, disaster. This is a movie of hope but with a huge dose of reality. With one character angry with a father for being deaf, and another lost in routine, and emptiness, it’s not a story that screams high concept. It’s comforting and thought provoking, in it’s own way without being preachy or pretentious. Both are easy traps to fall into when you are doling out a film that is intimately examining choices people make in their lives and where they lead them. Writers often stick in their own judgments here and there as if we are looking at life through their eyes and perspective. I didn’t get that feeling with Speakeasy. It flows more like we are observing, not stopping to decide whether or not these people are wrong, bad, misguided, or whatever. We just watch and wonder what will happen next. I like that.

All the performances are pretty good, with one exception, a tattoo artist who tries just a little too hard to be an actor…haha but hey, gotta give everyone their 15 minutes, right? I really like David Straithairn and Nicky Katt for what seems like a true passion for figuring out who their characters are and adding so much with expressions, mannerisms, and very delicately but often cleverly delivered dialogue.

A marriage on the rocks, a new friendship strained by differences in lifestyle, both forged through hazardous circumstance. Each connection between the characters have started with a powerful, mostly negative collisions, one kind or another. With that kind of history it’s a great question to ask, where do they go from there? Do people thrown together by one fateful moment, or a past full of heartbreak really have a choice but to stick together? And how does that translate into long term happiness? I could be wrong here, but that’s some of what I took away from this movie.

I highly recommend Speakeasy for a lot of reasons. Not because it’s got the highest production values, or the most famous leads, or that it’s big and powerful in anyway. Just the opposite actually. I recommend it because it’s on the low down, calm, not trying to impress or live up to a big budget. It’s a good story, told well, acted well, and the theme has staying power, not to mention it’s funny, charming, and entertaining.

Value: 6/10
Just to recap, good cover, no extras and the movie is good, but not in the category of “I’ve got to have it at any cost!”…all of which don’t quite add up to an average online $22.00 price tag. I would very definitely rent this one now and hold out to add it to your collection for a special edition or bargain bin price in a few months.

Overall Score 6/10