Tuesday, May 19, 2009

cinema obscura: Edward Burns' "Purple Violets" (2007)

With an increasing regularity, I keep discovering compellingly obscure movies on my 300-channel cable schedule - fairly estimable movies that I never heard of, movies with noted performers that I'm surprised even exist.

The films, not the performers.

Case in point: The 2007 Edward Burns film, "Purple Violets" which was made for the Weinstein Brothers who, not unexpectedly, immediately shelved the title after it played the Tribeca Film Festival that year.

It's been all over HBO these days.

Selma Blair makes good company in a lost film
This is not a bad film, just an uneventful one. Burns, who made his reputation making films (alternately set on Long Island or in New Jersey) about lovelorn Irish lugs, seems to have hit a career roadblock these days. But here, he turns out a faux Woody Allen film - a nervous romance (to borrow an ad line for one of Allen's films). It's a credible imitation.

The cast is appealing - Selma Blair and Patrick Wilson as two former lovers, both writers, who come together again after she's given up writing for real estate (thanks to blockage) and he's gone on to become a crowd-pleasing novelist. On the sidelines are Elizabeth Reaser as Wilson's unstable girlfriend; Donal Logue as Blair's insensitive main squeeze; Dennis Farina as Blair's piggish boss; Burns as Wilson's best bud, and Debra Messing as a woman trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid Burns.

These are companionable people - it's nice to see Blair in a leading role, even a mopey one like this - and the movie itself goes down easy.

I just have two questions:

Why was it made?

And why didn't the Weinsteins release it?

Note in Passing: Burns hasn't exactly been inactive, just low-profile. He directed and co-starred in (1) "Ash Wednesday" (2002), starring Elijah Wood as his brother; (2) "Looking for Kitty" (2004), starring David Krumholtz as a high school baseball coach, and (3) "The Groomsman" (2006), with John Leguizamo (which airs on The Movie Channel at 11 a.m., est, on Monday, June 8 and at 2:55 p.m. on Friday, June 12).

He also went freelance and acted in Nancy Meyers' "The Holiday" (2006) and Anne Fletcher's "27 Dresses" (2008), as well as a trio of lesser-known titles - Peter Hyams' "A Sound of Thunder"(2005); "Nick Willing's "The River King" (2005), and Eric Valette's "One Missed Call" (2008), a remake of Takashi Miike's Japanese horror film "Chakushin Ari" (2003), co-starring Shannyn Sossamon (and showing on HBO at 4:30 p.m., est, on Friday, June 5 and at 9 A.m. on Wednesday, June 10).


Tim said...

Sounds promising. What is with the Weinsteins? Why are they always icking up and then shelving movies?

wwolfe said...

It's funny you should mention this movie. I started to watch it late one night last week, and found myself enjoying it. Unfortunately, the twin facts of me waking up at 4:30 a.m. to go to work, and being 50, not 20, meant I dozed off before the movie ended. That's a comment on me, not the movie - I'd like to have a chance to see thw whole thing sometime.

joe baltake said...


What you missed was an unreasonably protracted ending, with Selma going back and forth with her decision about Patrick. I'm too old for this kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

How could this not be released???? I mean, considering the junk that routinely makes it into theaters.

Will Hennessy said...

I really, really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was fresh and funny; and the drama, comedy and romance was weaved together very well. I even loved the locations they chose to film on. He picked some gorgeous backdrops to film in, which appears to be NYC.

I bought the DVD a while back, and still watch it every once in a while.