Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Denis O'Hare, Catherine Kellner, Wallace Little, Monique Curnen, Jonan Everett
Director: Jim McKay
From HBO Films. Rachel Griffiths and new comer Jonan Everett star in the story of a counselor and the troubled inner-city teenager she is trying to help, both of who are at turning points in their lives. Angel acts out by ... more »
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Great Performances, But A Lack Of Character Insight, Make Fo
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 11/03/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure what I was supposed to be left with after viewing "Angel Rodriguez"--a slight, well meaning drama that had it's premiere on HBO. Restrained and dignified performances by Jonan Everett and Rachel Griffiths are definitely worth watching. The slice-of-life approach is interesting--we seem to be getting just enough information to want to follow these characters, but ultimately not enough to understand them. And however much I wanted to recommend and like "Angel Rodriguez"--I'm afraid it really just left me feeling a bit empty.
Angel, played by Everett, is a high school senior. He has been thrown out of his house by his father and is now trying to make his way on the streets. Angel, as presented, is an intelligent kid with loads of potential. He has quite a few friends, computer savvy, decent grades, and a well spoken and polite manner--it's a thoughtful portrait of a relatively normal kid. Apparently he doesn't get along with his father's girlfriend which is the crux of the problem at home. But, the backstory is never really developed. His father is also upset that Angel can't hold down a job and is a liar--but we never learn any details of this and it doesn't seem to gibe with the Angel we see.
Rachel Griffiths is a high school counselor who opens her home to Angel. Not only does she bring Angel home, she leaves him there unattended and gives him a key. This is such an altruistic, and questionable, decision for a counselor (whose husband doesn't object)--you know she and Angel must have a special bond. Maybe, but it's never seen in the film either. We are never let in to what draws this woman to Angel--their relationship is never seen as anything other than polite and professional.
Angel does have a couple of flashes of anger which are incongruous with the rest of the film. But that's the problem. The film never allows us to know or understand Angel. The film never allows us to know or understand Griffiths' character. And then it just ends. And while I appreciated and admired much in the film, especially it's performances,--it all seemed rather pointless. I never expected big drama and big answers--but I needed an insight into these characters if someone actually wanted me to feel anything. Really about 2 1/2, I'll round up for good intention. KGHarris, 11/06.
Thank God For Jim McKay and 'Angel'
Mr Mingo | NYC, NY USA | 12/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once again, Jim Mckay has given us a film so overflowing with humanism and cinematic care it makes Hollywood, 'Indywood,' and television look even more like the sewer of cliché' we know it to be. A film that respects it's viewers enough to avoid easy characterizations and Oprah-level morals and resolution, 'Angel Rodriguez' harkens back to that earlier era of gritty urban drama (before the Tom Cruise clone patrol strafed through Hollywood) that gave us 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore,' 'Angelo, My Love,' and 'Kramer vs. Kramer.' Like 'Kes,' Ken Loach's classic verite drama of a child's battle with the limited options, limited expectations and malignant indifference of his working class roots, and 'Small Change,' Francois Truffaut's celebration of the resilience of children, 'Angel Rodriguez' is a testament of faith in the future, and, most importantly, of the communal bond between us that extends beyond class, age, and race.
The performances are so utterly real and lacking in gloss or shtick it often feels like you're watching a documentary. Everett and Griffiths deliver the kind of subtle performances that earned Oscars for the young Jack Nicholson, Tim Hutton, or Ellen Burstyn. Especially good are Indie stalwarts O'Hare and Kellner, who shine as always but here bring an understated narcissism to their characters that wonderfully frames the raw 'big life decisions' at-risk Angel and his social worker Nicole face during a very tense--and poignant--36 hours.
If what you're looking for is a film you'll think about for weeks after you've seen it, poring over the minute gestures and moments and choices of these two very small lives, the kind of film that, like great art, stays with you, 'Angel Rodriguez' is for you. If you like to watch stuff blow-up, forget it, and if you're the kind or moralizer that likes his Right and Wrong underlined in crayon and wrapped up in a big easy resolution at the end, don't bother. Dr. Phil fans beware."
Where the Parts are Greater than the Whole
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/10/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"ANGEL RODRIGUEZ is yet another story of a kid whose innate talents and intelligence are misguided until he comes Under the influence of a caring adult, able to share her own vulnerabilities allowing the two to grow into stronger people. At least it seems that is what this little short and rather flimsy film is trying to say. The script is so lean and the attempt to develop characters who are understandable in their own light in order for us to care about the plot line of 'redemption' just doesn't support the film. This is a case where the actors are so fine that they are able to fill in the gaping cracks in the script well enough to maintain our attention, our concern, for the duration of the film.
Jonan Everett, making his strong film debut, is that kind of understated actor whose presence rings true and this presence makes us care about a kid whose actions should repulse us at times. His 'Angel' is a bright young talented kid who longs for something more then the hand he has been dealt. His friends, especially the gender bending Jamie (Jon Norman Schneider) is another newcomer to watch. The camera loves him and it seems there is enough latent talent to make him a fine little character actor. Much the same can be said for his other computer geek friend Raymond (Wallace Little). But the strength of the production is secured whenever the talented Rachel Griffiths (Nicole - the social worker) enters the story. Though we are given little from the script to help us organize her motivations, Griffiths' power as an actress overcomes the hurdles.
Writer/director Jim McKay has done better work in the past: Everyday People, Our Song, Girls Town, and some TV show episodes. He gives us the feeling that he understands the underbelly of the big cities and probably with the next film he will have learned from ANGEL RODRIGUEZ a few pointers to help him correct the deficiencies here. Grady Harp, November 06"
Insightful day in the life film
R. Kyle | USA | 01/22/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Angel Rodriguez" is a made-for-HBO film about a teenager who's trying to get his life together. Angel, played by Jonan Everett, is first seen moving into his high school counselor Nicole's (Rachel Griffiths) spare bedroom because his Dad kicked him out.
Angel's definitely a likable guy. He's got plenty of friends, including Raymond (Wallace Little), good grades, and he's a talented programmer. So, why's he out on the street? His Dad alleges the kid's a liar and a thief, but it seems more like Angel's inconvenient since Daddy's got a new girlfriend, who doesn't get along with Angel.
Nicole, Angel's counselor, is taking a pretty big risk giving a high school kid seeming cart blanche access to her home and her house keys with nary a blink.
"Angel" had me watching attentively for more, but the script didn't precisely provide it. The actors did and I wished I could have seen more than just this short 'slice of life' with some serious inconsistencies. The film's well worth watching just to see the actors interact, but doesn't provide the depth I was hoping for.
Rebecca Kyle, January 2009"