Winner of the LA Independent Film Festival audience award way back in 1998, BROKEN VESSELS has sat on a shelf until a distributor was brave enough to release this gritty tale about two LA EMS workers who sample the wares, take their time getting to the scene of an accident and even rip off old people. (Basically it plays to all your worst fears about the medical business.) Usually the term sitting on a shelf means a bad thing. Not this time. Now in limited release around the country, VESSELS is quite simply a terrific black comedy-drama film that must be seen. By the numbers, here’s the reasons...1) Director Scott Ziehl. He shows a sure hand and a brave heart for mixing humor, horror and style. The film has been compared to the similar (seemingly) amoral DRUGSTORE COWBOY and for good reason. This unflinching look at human nature gone awry is strong, potent medicine.
2) Star Todd Field. As Jimmy the ambulance vet, he’s slick, selfish and oddly endearing. Field has been flying just below the hype radar for years now (he has a small part as an old pal of Tom Cruise’s in EYES WIDE SHUT) and his performance in VESSELS is his best to date. Combing the charm / revulsion of a young DeNiro with a sleazy mustache that’s right out of STAR 80, this is a brave act that should propel him to the next strata of acting stardom.
3) Star Jason London. As Tom, the wide-eyed audience surrogate, London finally gets a part to mess up that pretty face of his. At first he seems an innocent in a savage land, but stick with him, Toms got a nasty surprise or two up his sleeve.
4) The supporting cast. Roxana Zal, Susan Traylor and James Hong are hilarious, sultry and totally whacked out. But not necessarily in that order. Find out which is which and why they deepen the story so convincingly.
5) Because VESSELS is the dark - horse - sleeper - find of 1999. If it comes and goes without a fight tons more of good little films without big hype behind them are going to suffer a similar fate. Remember the iF Motto: “Support the good films, skip the bad ones.”
6) The plot to VESSELS is curiously similar sounding to the new Martin Scorsese - Nicolas Cage drama BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, which opens this fall. See VESSELS now and show off to your pals when DEAD comes to town.
7) The MPAA says it’s Rated R for “strong and continuous drug use, language, sexuality and violence.”8) What else are you going to do, go see EYES WIDE SHUT AGAIN?-- Paul Zimmerman