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Ronald Bronstein, a New York City projectionist by trade, resurrects the grungy, street-level immediacy of indie filmmaking with this 16-millimeter nightmare about a balding, stammering, apoplectic schlub (Dore Mann) who repels everyone around him. The shapeless story and his friends' guarded behavior toward him make this a tough nut to crack, but at some point—probably his jabbering confrontation with his impeccably clear and direct roommate (Paul Grimstad)—you begin to share in the other characters' collective recoil. The movie climaxes in a desperate night on the town that leaves the protagonist abjectly isolated, pitiable but no less obnoxious. We've all known people like this, usually as little as possible, which may explain why the movie has provoked such violent reactions at festival screenings: it brings us face-to-face with the limits of our compassion. 106 min.

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