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Angel Rodriguez (HBO)

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Angel Rodriguez (DVD)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Denis O'Hare, Catherine Kellner, Wallace Little, Monique Curnen, Jonan Everett
  • Directors: Jim McKay
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HWZ4GG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,728 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Angel Rodriguez (HBO)" on IMDb

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By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 2, 2006
Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
This striking HBO film by director Jim McKay portrays a day in the life of what the media would call a "throwaway kid." Rejected by his parents, with no home, he continues going to high school and has plans some day to have his own computer company - not a far-fetched goal, as he is clearly bright and knowledgeable about computers. But with his back against the wall, and befriended only by other marginal kids, his only lifeline is a school counselor who tries to keep him from being defeated by the circumstances of his life.

McKay's portrayal of his central character, Angel, is both gentle and realistic. He knows that the boy has both strengths and weaknesses. Tempted to steal from someone who has given him a place to stay for the night, he steals. And we learn that he is capable of a murderous rage. But there's also a struggle going on in him to persevere, be responsible, and not give up hope. This mixture of traits makes him a compelling study in youthful complexity. The role is played convincingly by a nonactor, Jonan Everett. Meanwhile, Rachel Griffiths as the school counselor demonstrates the remarkable ability to make us forget that we've seen her for several seasons as a continuing character on "Six Feet Under." The DVD has a sparse commentary by McKay, who admits that he'd prefer to say nothing and let his film speak for itself. While it's clear that the purpose of the film is to tell a story, it owes much to the cinema verite style of documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, whom McKay acknowledges as a prime influence.
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Format: DVD
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.
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