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By Mike Watt | September 7, 2003

I’m immensely mistrustful of “award-winning” festival films. In my experience, festival films are generally “so what” movies – usually beautiful to watch, impressive technically, but possessing a high-degree of pretension and pointlessness. Sarah Bassine’s “eight” won the New York Film Festival and the 2001 Grand Mariner Film Fellowship. Because of these caveats, it took me three tries to put the tape into my VCR. Sure enough, it proved itself to be a bonafide festival film.

Eight strangers ride a subway car together – each of whom has been involved in a wretched relationship or unsatisfactory interpersonal relationship the previous night. We see their stories in short scenes, we learn how miserable they are with their lives. They’re all young, possessing varying degrees of beauty. Each and every person, as drawn in these tiny snippets, are shallow and lifeless.

Or maybe it’s their stories that are shallow and lifeless. Or maybe I’m just getting too old to enjoy the plights of beautiful New York club kids, whose entire lives are focused on these life-shattering “relationships”. Do they have jobs? Do they have mortgages? Do they do anything beside pick each other up in bars or break up with each other in out-door cafes?

At the end of the agonizing (but beautifully shot and acted) eighteen minutes, I truly didn’t care about what I had seen. I was struck with the undeniable feeling of “so what?” But congratulations to Ms. Bassine and everyone involved for their successes with “eight”.

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