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$5 A Day (2008) Print E-mail
Friday, 27 August 2010
Image“$5 A Day” is your typical independent film filled with a great cast.  The plot is standard, always trying to keep you on your toes.  I stress “trying.”  Like most all films that use an overdone primary plot, this film tries to add in little twists and turns that don’t add up in the end.

Christopher Walken and Alessandro Nivola star as a father and son con team.  The son, Flynn, has disowned his father and is trying to get his life back on track after a year in prison.  Unfortunately, his life starts to fall apart when he loses his job and his girlfriend moves out.

When Flynn learns that his father, Nat, is dying he struggles to accept whether it is the truth or not.  With all the cons his father pulled in the past, and continues to do so in the present, Flynn has trouble believing anything his father tells him.  Nat brings his son to Atlantic City to get him to drive him to New Mexico, where there is apparently a treatment center.

The road trip turns into a trip down memory lane.  The trip consists of individual scenes that don’t all have their place.  Some are incredibly boring and others are either deep or hilarious.  The end comes rather quickly and is over just like that.  It is rather anticlimactic and leaves us with several questions, but only if you were really paying attention throughout the film, which I will say is hard to do.

The cast is terrific.  Christopher Walken is as crazy as ever, living each day on an allowance of less than $5 per day (hence the title).  Sharon Stone is looking mighty good for her age.  She has a non-vital role in the film and her scenes are there for Flynn to learn one little tidbit about his mother.  Amanda Peet portrays Flynn’s girlfriend, who has left him because she knows nothing about him after all the time they have been together.  Alessandro Nivola, best known for his work in “Face/Off” and “Jurassic Park III,” delivers a decent performance, but suffers from a lack of direction in his character development.
“$5 A Day” has a very lackluster video transfer.  Many of the problems stem back to the original production quality, but in the end the transfer looks much like standard definition.  Film grain fluctuates from one extreme to another.  Details fluctuate among soft and sharp and overly sharp.  Textures are lost much of the time due to overwhelming grain.  Backgrounds fade in and out of focus without cause.  Colors are not horrible, but they lack resolution.  Crushing occurs in all dark sequences.  Shadow delineation is unresolved.  The image is simply flat and uninspiring.  This isn’t worst video transfer that I have seen.  According to the ranking it would fall flat in the middle of the scale, 50 percent is not a passing grade.

This film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.  The transfer is adequate, again, most problems arising from the production audio.  The sound design is uninteresting.  The surround channels are absent throughout, just as the LFE channel is usually absent from dramatic and comedic film.  Speaking of which, the LFE channel pops in on two occasions, to supply a little extra bottom end for the music.  The dialogue is front and center, though there are numerous occasions in which it becomes unintelligible and/or simply too low in the mix.  Balance is missing from the audio track in terms of the relationship between the dialogue and music.  Dynamics are flat and the frequency response is spotty.  The audio is adequate for casual listening but it does not draw you into the story.

The Blu-ray disc comes with one primary special feature.  There is a group of director and cast interviews.  Unfortunately, Christopher Walken doesn’t have a spot here, which probably is the only one that would have been worth watching.  The other two special features are a trailer and some still galleries.

“$5 A Day” is not a horrible film, but it doesn’t have anything about it that draws in the viewer.  The audio and video qualities fall in the average to below average range.  You’ll probably want to skip this one unless you have a huge attraction for comedic dramas about death or of one of the film’s stars.

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