Movie Review: OFF THE BOULEVARD
Following two musicians, Nick Nicholson and Keith Jackson, two filmmakers Troy Duffy and Jeff Santo, two actors David Della Rocco and Sanel Budimlic, and one comedian Bob Rubin, independent director Jeff Santo’s new documentary Off The Boulevard attempts to capture the personal struggles of independent artists in all corners of the Hollywood entertainment business.
While its foundation is about as simple as you will find, the film is actually riveting viewing as Jeff Santo perfectly captures what it means to go it alone in a city dominated by movie studios, record companies, executives and producers.
Not only is it an angry portrait of the corrupt world of Hollywood though – one that has frequently screwed Santo and his ensemble of friends – it’s also an uplifting tale about the courage it takes to raise your middle finger to the system and be independent. While he provides a raw, honest image of just how strenuous and tough it is to survive in the entertainment business as an independent artist, his film is equally as much an uplifting insight into how rewarding it is to be able to chase your dreams without the shackles of the Hollywood entertainment industry’s moguls.
Its surprising moments of unity and brotherhood between the documentary’s protagonists as they respect and support each other are some of Off The Boulevard’s brightest moments. They provide a warm contrast to the cut-throat, competitive image one would usually imagine exists between rival performers in the business.
But while the tender moments of independent spirit frequently crack through the flags in Off The Boulevard, the film is not without its moments of true sadness. As you watch these extra-ordinarily talented individuals drift through life unable to acquire that break they deserve, the feeling of injustice is often over-whelming. Furthermore, Santo never quite loses sight of the fact that, while his film focuses on a small collection of characters, their stories are ones that spread far and wide across the city.
Once it hits its second half, Off The Boulevard occasionally feels a little repetitive, failing to touch on many new ideas after the first half of the film. However, when the film executes its straightforward concept so brilliantly it’s difficult to have too many qualms.
Entertaining, bittersweet and deeply personal, Jeff Santo’s latest film is a must-watch.