The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

2008

Adventure / Comedy / Drama

1
IMDb Rating 5.4 10 3114

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 29, 2021 at 01:13 PM

Cast

Sienna Miller as Jane Bellwether
Mena Suvari as Phlox Lombardi
Nick Nolte as Joe Bechstein
Peter Sarsgaard as Cleveland Arning
720p.BLU
885 MB
1280*534
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 36 min
P/S 8 / 17

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by sampotter25 3 / 10

Lifeless Lead Character Drives A Pointless and Obtuse Story

I am quite a fan of novelist/screenwriter Michael Chabon. His novel "Wonder Boys" became a fantastic movie by Curtis Hanson. His masterful novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" won the Pulitzer Prize a few years back, and he had a hand in the script of "Spider Man 2", arguably the greatest comic book movie of all time.

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber has also directed wonderful comedic pieces, such as the gut-busting "Dodgeball" and the genius short film series "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker". And with a cast including Peter Saarsgard, Sienna Miller, Nick Nolte and Mena Suvari, this seems like a no-brainer.

It is. Literally.

Jon Foster stars as Art Bechstein, the son of a mobster (Nolte) who recently graduated with a degree in Economics. Jon is in a state of arrested development: he works a minimum wage job at Book Barn, has a vapid relationship with his girlfriend/boss, Phlox (Suvari), which amounts to little more than copious amounts of sex, with no plans other than to chip away at a career for which he has zero passion.

One night at a party, an ex-roommate introduces Jon to Jane (Miller), a beautiful, smart violinist. Later that night they go out for pie, and she asks Jon a question that begins to shake him from his catatonic state of existence, "I want you to tell me something that you have never told a single soul. If you do, it will make this night indelible." Jon then tells her a reoccurring dream of his in which he wanders about town looking at the faces of strangers passing him by, yet none of them look him in the eye. "I imagine it must be what death feels like," he says.

The next day Jane's wild boyfriend Cleveland (Saarsgard) kidnaps Jon from work and takes him out to a hulking abandoned steel mill, and soon Jon, Cleveland and Jane are spending every waking moment together going to punk rock concerts, doing drugs and drinking lots of alcohol. This doesn't sit well with Phlox, who pushes Jon for a more personal relationship, namely letting her meet his new friends and his father. The film then attempts to take us on Jon's journey as he shakes off the shackles imposed on him by his father, Phlox and his dead-end job as he finds freedom and expression through his relationships with Cleveland and Jane.

There is a problem having us follow Jon throughout the film: he's completely uninteresting. He has no ambitions, passions or goals. He walks through life like the invisible wraith he described to Jane the night they met. At the outset this isn't a problem. But he never gets any more interesting. He's a completely passive character. He simply follows along the bohemian Cleveland and Jane, but he never once gives us any inkling as to what he cares about or wants to to do with himself.

Consequently, the film and its supporting characters have nowhere to go and little to do other than party, have sex and get in arguments. In other words, much ado about nothing. What we have here is the shallow skin of a good movie without anything on the inside. Sweeping cinematography, ponderous voice-over with characters staring off into the distance, lots of sex scenes both straight and gay, big arguments, more angry sex, a chase scene and a tragic death... but it doesn't seem to matter. Ironically, at one point Jane, confused at a number of Jon's aimless actions, asks him, "What's going on, Jon? What is this all about?" Yes, Jon, do tell. We in the audience are dying to know, too.

The title "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" must refer to the characters themselves, because that's what they are. They are all facades, one-dimensional stand-ins for actual people. The film never lets us in. We never know what makes any of them tick. We see them do lots of things, but we don't know why. And the absence of "why" is one of the worst things a movie can have.

Reviewed by gradyharp 8 / 10

Watch the Commentary Between Chabon and Thurber FIRST!

For those who find it difficult to appreciate the adaptation format of film making from a famous novel, THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH as now released on DVD should help explain the naysayers' opinions. In a very valuable session of conversations among Michael Chabon and Rawson Marshall Thurber (screenwriter and director) and the producer and cast, the transition of this complex novel into a very altered story is comfortably explained and the person most happy with the result seems to be the originator - Michael Chabon!

That being said this film stands well on its own terms. June and July in hot Pittsburgh generate mysteries among a variety of people, especially the young college graduate Art Bechstein (Jon Foster) who while working in a bookstore wastes time with a fling with the supervisor Phlox (Mena Suvari) with disinterested post grad classes dealing with becoming a broker and having monthly dinners with his mobster father Joe Bechstein (Nick Nolte), until he encounters an odd couple: bisexual biker and thief Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard) and his female consort, the violinist Jane Bellwether (Sienna Miller). The bizarre interactions among these characters drive Art to make many decisions and discoveries - including his falling in love with both Cleveland and Jane. The summer winds down with Art finally discovering his own identity despite the clouds of mystery that have surrounded his life. It is a piece of life as lived by disparate characters whose direction in life seems at odds with the natural flow of finding happiness and success. But then the question is asked - what is happiness and what is success if not survival?

For this viewer the explanation by the makers of this film was interesting enough to encourage a repeat watching of the movie. A good movie not a great movie, but it still tastes strongly of Michael Chabon's genius. It deserves more attention than the critics have given it.....Grady Harp

Reviewed by DaMarco-2 6 / 10

Beloved novel is drained of its wit in film

Michael Chabon is one of our generation's greatest writers, having earned the acclaim of awards and prizes that he deserves. "Wonder Boys" was made into a very good if uneventful film, and one has high hopes for "Kavalier & Klay." "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is about Art Bechstein, the young son of a gangster who does not want him to follow in his footsteps. Art has majored in business but has no taste for it. It is the summer after his graduation and he is supposedly studying for a test that will license him to work in high finance, though he spends his time enjoying the summer as the last of his youth.

Art works at a bookstore and meets Phlox, an attractive young woman. He also makes friends with a gay man named Arthur Lecomte, who introduces him to Cleveland Arning. Art meets Cleveland's girlfriend Jane who is striking and mysterious to him. Art spends his summer in relationships with these people and learning more about himself.

The tone of the book is one of the great accomplishments of Chabon's writing. It is wry and witty, and ever so slightly tongue in cheek. My favorite line in the book is the last, in which Art tells us this summer was a turning point for him, or maybe he just made it all up. Art is a cousin to Holden Caufield, with his attitudes, but he takes himself far less seriously.

This film is not the trainwreck that many would have you to believe, including devotees of the novel. While some criticize the glossy cinematography, I would argue that it is one of the few things that work in this film. Pittsburgh has a fascinating aesthetic that deserves to be filmed well, and the cinematographer accomplished that.

The overall problem with the film is that it never comes even remotely close to capturing the tone of the novel. The wit and humor are gone completely. The tone of this movie is so deathly serious that none of the events that were shocking in the novel are the least bit surprising in the film. It is the equivalent of sitting in the parlor of a funeral home.

Jon Foster is an exercise in bad casting. He looks like what one imagines Art to look like--mildly handsome, lanky, a non-showy intelligence--but never once plays the character properly. There is no slyness, no humor, no wit or warmth in this performance, and that is about 60% of what's wrong with the whole film. Foster does not even come remotely close to the character we followed in the novel. A toned down Topher Grace is what the part called for, but all we get is an actor who is so bland and dull that we couldn't care less about the character he is playing.

Peter Sarsgaard was perfect casting as Cleveland, and has a resume of similar successful roles in his past. However, Sarsgaard plays Cleveland with all the seriousness of a war veteran who's lost his legs. The unpredictability and wildness that makes up the book's character is not in the film.

Sienna Miller's Jane is an overinflated part, about a character who was only meant to be an enigma in passing, sort of like Suzanne Somer's "Girl in the White T-Bird" in "American Graffiti." Her mere beauty is supposed to mean more to us than it ever does.

Only Mena Survari as Phlox and Nick Nolte as Art's gangster father manage to properly convey what we knew about the characters. Unfortunately the likable Phlox is reduced to being a clingy nymphomaniac, as opposed to the sweet, likable free spirit in the novel. Still Survari made the part work despite limited screen time.

Art's sexual awakening is glossed over and Cleveland's bisexuality is treated more as pansexuality. The film has the nerve to show the men in embrace, but cuts to the morning after in chaste fade away.

Even the Cloud Factory is given a short shrift. A prominent fixture in the book, it is also a big player in the movie, but as with the characters, it is also played as a serious location rather than a humorous one. The actual plant in the novel is a working facility at Carnegie Mellon University. In the film, it is an abandoned facility outside of town about which Cleveland says no one knows why smoke still comes out of the stack. Well, actually, smoke can only come from a stack if it is fed coal or some other energy source, which someone must purchase. So if no one is buying coal for it then such a thing is not even possible. Smoke doesn't just appear! And that sums up the problem with this film. Smoke appears out of nowhere and for no reason, as do the human emotions. We don't see any motivation or reasoning, and we never understand why any of these boring people want anything to do with each other.

Pittsburgh is a fascinating city with a rich history, Chabon's novel is a great book with rich characters. Both got the short shrift in this plodding and pointless film. The only way to enjoy it is to put it on TV at a party and turn down the sound while playing a music CD. The visuals make for great music video and replace the characters who never muster any personality in the atmosphere of the film. Like most films about ennui, we become bored with watching boredom.

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