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Movie Review:13 Conversations About One Thing

Story: And that one thing is: happiness - or the pursuit thereof, the philosophy about, the quest for, the fleeting fluidity of, the choices we make to attain it, the jealousy of those that innately seem to possess it, the time spent thinking about it and the entitlement to it (as many Americans seem to believe).

Writer-director Jill Sprecher (Clockwatchers) does a fine job with this, her second film. It is engrossing from beginning to end. She bends time as we quickly learn that the stories we are watching are not necessarily in chronological order. There are 13 vignettes with four major stories. The characters' lives occasionally interconnect and cross paths and we are shown a little about happenstance, fate, choice, illusion, reality, luck, guilt, optimism, pessimism and realism. I cared about all of the characters even though she depicts many of them in the worst light. A hard thing to achieve and worth your time.

Acting: A fine cast including an outstanding (as always) Alan Arkin. He should be made a national treasure. Matthew McConaughy, who I was about to put in the bad choices, overrated growing category list was right on the money in this part. John Turturro and Amy Irving looked and acted somewhat catatonic. Clea DuVall and Tia Texada were also fine.

Critters: None (I think critters always elevate the happiness factor)

Food: Coffee Shop food and home made cookies.

Visual Art: Some nice touches on the four major characters' locales.

Blatant Product Placement: Minetta Lane Theater (some of the scenes are shot on this charming street - Minetta Lane, at night).

Soundtrack: Hardly any.

Opening Titles: I don't remember. The 13 vignettes are separated by title cards.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded for a film that has been around for a while.

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: 0

Oscar Worthy: Alan Arkin is worthy of a nomination.

Nit Picking: Other than some feelings of claustrophobia in the various locations I have no nits to pick. Many indie films do not allow for lots of breathing room in their budgets.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. Here are some of Alan Arkin's great films for you to rent: Slums of Beverly Hills, Gattaca. Mother Night. Glengarry Glen Ross, The In-Laws, The Little Murders, Catch-22, Popi, Inspector Clouseau, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.

Length: 100 minutes.