Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Vin Diesel, Mike Epps
Director: Vin Diesel
Strays, the film that launched Vin Diesel's career and his compelling, carefully crafted debut as writer/director, takes a hard look at his own adolescence and upbringing in New York City. Rick (Vin Diesel) is a stray - ra... more »
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Relationships and how to form and keep them
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"STRAYS (or DOORMEN as his script was initially titled) marks the entry of Vin Diesel (AKA Mark Sinclair Vincent) into the film world in a very small budget (under $50,000.), independent 1997 movie he wrote, directed and acted the major role. To appreciate this very realistic, modest, slice of New York life the film presents, it helps to watch the features added to the DVD (the film is released to the public for the first time): interviews with the cast and with Diesel give a sensitive and heartwarming background that enhances the movie experience. Though Diesel studied acting and worked in theater in New York prior to this film, it was not until he made his own film that he captured the attention of the people who make things happen. And now that Vin Diesel is a major Hollywood presence it is fascinating to see this initial opener.
The plot is simple enough: Rick (Diesel) is a minor drug dealer who also works as a bouncer with his buddy Tony (F. Valentino Morales), and hangs with Fred (Joey Dedio) and his 'brother' (Mike Epps, in his first role in film). The guys live mainly for easy sex and camaraderie - all of the have been raised by mothers without knowing their fathers (thus, are 'strays'). As Rick matures he grows tired of his shallow lifestyle, misses the connection with his mother he never developed, and is prime bait for a relationship. Into his life steps Heather (Suzanne Lanza), a wholesome Midwestern girl, the two have a mutual attraction, but as their courtship dance progresses Heather disapproves of Rick's at times gang-like behavior and his drug dealing. They come together in an extended park bench conversation (excellent writing) during which they realize they each have repairs to do on their previous lives before they can enter a serious relationship.
One aspect of this little film that makes it a cut above the many others like it is the quality of natural acting Diesel draws from his cast: uncredited female actors who provide the sex interest for the men are variably excellent, and Morales, Dedio and Lanza are particularly strong in their commitment to ensemble acting. The script is fairly strong, though the barrage of expletives becomes tiresome after a while. Yet in the end, Diesel establishes his skills as a serious actor and as a fine director and writer, and for the chance to see one of Hollywood's major talents in his nascent stage, this film is well worth watching. Grady Harp, January 08"
He just wants to be loved!
Yvette | Modesto, CA | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, this movie was better than I expected. I thought it was going to be all about drug dealing and street thugs with a little romance in the mix. But I found it to be a romance story with a little street life in the mix. I found the character of Rick (Vin Diesel) to be very vulnerable and needing something more in life. He just wants to be loved, truely loved. Not just for the way he looks or acts but for who he is when he stands alone. I think the story shows that Vin can really embrace the role of a character who is romantic, and I hope to see more of him in these type of roles. Overall a great life changing movie and I was still thinking about some of the lines several days after watching the movie, so watch and enjoy."
John Morales | 01/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes the combination of good writing, good direction and good casting collides into a great movie. Writer/Director Vin Diesel stars as Rick, the emotional center to a very strong ensemble of acquired family. The older brother who is finally facing the future, Rick tries to develop a new life while still taking care of his circle of strays. He rebels from his sex-filled nights against Salvatore, a womanizing freeloader and his drug-providing past with Fred, his not so bright cousin. Their unending loyalty keeps the "family" strong, even when he falls in love with a midwestern outsider, Heather. Perceptive and extremely witty writing keeps the pace throughout the film, and his chemistry with tony, played beautifully by f valentino morales, is worth the price of the ticket alone."
Strays will be a clasic.
Chiral | 05/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Strays goes beyond simple entertainment and accomplishes what every great work of art sets out to accomplish. It elicits previously hidden emotions from its audience. It communicates in a subtle and elegant fashion while maintaining a clarity of truth that can not be denied. Often the elegance of our lives is misunderstood or simply overlooked by the harshness of reality. This movie embraces the bitter and often ugly truth while quietly revealing the beauty and fragility of the human experience. This movie changed my perspective on life and if that isn't the true definition of art then I don't know what is.
You can't just watch it once and expect to see or understand the subtleties. The art, the passion, the feel of this movie is layered in by excellent writing, acting and directing. It is not a slam it in your face action movie that speaks to an ignorant audience. Strays asks the audience to sit with it and give it room to breathe its life and message in its own time and its own fashion. Like a fine wine, taken too quickly in large gulps one misses everything that makes it special, makes it a masterpiece. Strays will resonate with a generation and will easily become a classic."