Richard Kind

Ingenious (2009, Jeff Balsmeyer)

Ingenious is a struggling artist picture, only the struggling artist in question (Dallas Roberts) is a tchotchke designer, not a painter.

The film mostly centers on Roberts, but also his sidekick (Jeremy Renner as the somewhat dangerous comic relief) and long-suffering wife (Ayelet Zurer). It’s a little unclear why director Balsmeyer and writer Mike Cram give so much attention to Renner and Zurer at first, because Ingenious does everything in a single stroke. There are no subplots per se. As the narrative perturbs, there is some branching out, but not a subplot. Even though Roberts (sparingly) narrates the film, he’s its opaquest character.

Just over halfway through, it becomes clear why Zurer gets so much attention. And Renner is Ingenious‘s only steam valve. He makes Roberts more likable because even if Roberts is irresponsible, Renner’s worse. But still endearing.

Balsmeyer and Cram really know how to use Renner in scenes too. He’s quiet, then starts to boil and make Roberts (and the viewer) cringe. When he finally does shut up and listen, it’s one of Ingenious‘s most profound moments.

Roberts is excellent in the lead, maintaining likability even when his choices are bad, but Zurer runs away with it all. Her character has the strongest arc and, thanks to Zurer’s performance, Balsmeyer is able to get away with what would otherwise be a cheap finish. Zurer brings so much gravity to the film, it’s impossible to read the end as airy.

Ingenious is subtle and quite good.



Directed by Jeff Balsmeyer; written by Mike Cram; director of photography, Geoffrey Hall; edited by Suresh Ayyar, Gavin Whalen and Marcus D’Arcy; music by Howe Gelb; production designer, Kim Buddee; produced by Cram, Tim Flood and Brian Neufang.

Starring Dallas Roberts (Matt), Jeremy Renner (Sam), Ayelet Zurer (Gina), Marguerite Moreau (Cinda), Eddie Jemison (Bean), Judith Scott (Rita), Amanda Anka (Louisa), Debby Rosenthal (Brenda) and Richard Kind (Newkin).

Cold Around the Heart (1997, John Ridley)

From the first few minutes—after lengthy opening titles (if only one knew it’d be Mason Daring’s worst score ever)—it’s immediately clear something is terribly wrong with Cold Around the Heart. David Caruso and Kelly Lynch are awful in the opening scene, followed by a terrible cameo from Richard Kind. Except, during Kind’s atrocious appearance—where it becomes obvious Ridley’s script is going to have some terrible, post-Tarantino dialogue—Caruso is all of a sudden really good.

And Caruso stays good for most of the film. He’s never good with Lynch, who’s astoundingly bad throughout, but he never repeats the awfulness of the first scene.

Stacey Dash shows up as a hitchhiker—Caruso and Lynch are stick-up artists; Lynch betrays Caruso and he’s after her—and she and Caruso form an odd friendship. Dash has a lot of problems, most she has nothing to do with. Ridley cast her, around the age of thirty, as a fifteen year-old. She can’t surmount that one. But she gets good throughout and she and Caruso’s relationship is refreshingly honest.

The best performance in the film is from Chris Noth, who shows up in the second half. John Spencer shows up for a bit and is, unfortunately, lame. Much like Pruitt Taylor Vince, it appears to be Ridley’s fault. He can’t direct actors.

On the whole, Ridley composes shots well and Malik Hassan Sayeed is an excellent cinematographer.

It’s a bad film. It’s got good elements, but it’s quite bad.



Written and directed by John Ridley; director of photography, Malik Hassan Sayeed; edited by Eric L. Beason; music by Mason Daring; production designer, Kara Lindstrom; produced by Craig Baumgarten, Dan Halsted and Adam Merims; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring David Caruso (Ned), Kelly Lynch (Jude), Stacey Dash (Bec), Chris Noth (T), John Spencer (Uncle Mike), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Johnny Cokebottles), Richard Kind (Nabbish) and Mark Boone Junior (Angry Man).

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