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By Chris Gore | January 21, 2001

Struggling filmmakers everywhere stop complaining right now! I hear the same lame excuses every damn time, “I can’t make my movie, because I don’t have the money.” Bullshit! Get off your lazy a*s, pick up a camera and create. “Boxes,” the debut feature from filmmakers Rene Besson and writer James Portolese is an incredibly flashy, yet substance-filled digital feature. This is smart, quality filmmaking and made for nothing – shot in 14 days for $300 bucks! You will feel elated! This is passion! Filmmakers everywhere in need of inspiration, “Boxes” is your cure.
“Boxes” is the story of Wren Hannah (Jimmy Vollman) an office drone who answers complaints at a box company. We hear his bitter inner monologue in voice-overs that attack and analyze every target from over-eager office morons to meaningless morning meetings to toner. Wren notes that his company doesn’t make the boxes themselves, they just supply the paper to make the boxes and the glue is made by a separate manufacturer. (The glue has the unnerving effect of making customers high – and brain-damaged.) But this is minor, and not really important. Actually, it IS important. The boxes are, of course, a metaphor for the boxes we enclose ourselves in everyday. The film itself is a wake up call to break out of your box. Clearly the effective cinematic style of this movie does that and it helps that the wicked script keeps things moving. For anyone who has ever worked in an oppressive office, you will find yourself cheering! I was floored by the dialog — this is an angry, intelligent, amazing, insightful, funny film. Watching this movie is like being in a coma and being injected with a serum that will jolt you awake. It is for anyone who has ever hated their job, which includes the entire human race!
Eden (Greta Hill) is Wren’s gal pal and they share many a conversation about sex, work, whatever. Mattie (Rob Berson) is Wren’s work and club bud. The story is really a simple corporate survival tale, but the clever insights on everything from pop culture (“Entertainment Weekly really has it’s finger on the pulse of pop culture”) to sex to clubbing to driving in LA are dead-on. “Boxes” has a great script and solid ideas. Besides the sharp writing courtesy of producer/writer James Portolese, first-time feature director Rene Besson uses economy to his advantage. Besson takes the tricks of digital filmmaking and makes them work FOR the movie. No scene is directed in a typical fashion. He uses clever storytelling devices such as a montage scene in which we see individual women’s thoughts in text on the screen. It’s simple, yet fresh and very effective. Besson should be applauded for attempting to actually push the limits. Digital filmmakers should look at this film as an example of what they should be aspiring to. An amazing debut from Rene Besson and writer James Portolese. Do not miss this movie.
Read the interview with filmmakers James Portolese and Rene Besson exclusively from Film Threat.

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