REVIEW: Skills Like This
Commercial director Monty Miranda’s first feature length film, SKILLS LIKE THIS, doesn’t look like the dirt cheap independent production that it is in reality. There is no awkward editing or basic and clunky shots; the film has a vibrant and smooth visual style, which makes the fact that SKILLS LIKE THIS is such a boring film disappointing.
It is not Miranda that deserves most of the blame for this uninteresting indie dramedy, but rather the film’s star and writer, Spencer Berger. It’s Berger who wrote this hollow story about a wannabe playwright who sucks but then realizes his true talent lies in crime--specifically, theft.
Characters do a lot of talking--especially Max (Berger)--but rarely say anything substantial or interesting. It’s the same disillusioned characters you have seen in many similar films: lost twenty-somethings that don’t know what to do with their lives. In better films you could have cared about these types of characters, but not here because there is no depth to them; they're one-dimesional, and ultimately boring.
The protagonist, Max, is supposed to be brooding and insightful, as he receives what is supposed to be a spiritual awakening once he starts embracing his inner criminal . Instead, Max is just irritating, as it is clear he thinks he is cool and wise--and it is clear, he is not. Max is on the philosophical level as the first kid in your middle school to start listening to his older brother’s stoner records, wear all black, and start talking about how we're all a part of the problem and we need to open our eyes. He is the kid that realized dressing differently and talking bullshit were probably the only ways he would be noticed, since he wasn't very clever or talented. He does not impress, he just annoys. While watching Max in SKILLS LIKE THIS, I often felt like I was in seventh grade English class again, looking SO fine in my Fleetwood Mac T-shirt with the sleeves cutoff, being irritated by the drivel someone was trying to pass off as profound.
In general, the acting produced in SKILLS LIKE THIS is on the same level as its poor writing. And, not surprisingly, the most notably lame is Berger, who is as engaging and brooding as a Baby Gap mannequin. You don’t need to say much about the other actors other than it is obvious that most of them are on the amateur side of the acting spectrum.
Director Marty Miranda's visual flare is evident with SKILLS LIKE THIS. Unfortunately, so are the severe faults with Spencer Berger’s screenplay and lead performance.