... Around


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The lead character in this story is a college student who  comes from a poor household in New Jersey and screws up his financial aid situation. As a result, he ends up putting himself through film school by working odd jobs, milking multiple credit cards, and sleeping in the nooks and crannies of New York, essentially living as a homeless person.

This film is an exceptional effort from a very young man who has lived a life very much like (although not precisely the same as) the one assigned to his lead character. Although the film is intensely personal, it doesn't stray into typical indie territory. There are no anti-corporate riffs, no quixotic solutions to world hunger, and no gay junkies dying of AIDS. In fact, the film ridicules those kinds of indie films and the pretentious people found in New York film schools. This particular movie has no particular axes to grind nor windmills to tilt at. The script consists of a guy telling a fictionalized version of his own life, sharing the places he's been and the people he's met. Of course, that could be a recipe for disaster if the filmmaker were extremely egocentric or if his life were extremely boring, but in this case neither is true. David Spaltro has led a unique life, has met many colorful characters, and has maintained a down-to-earth sense of humor about himself and the world.

Atypically for low-budget movie makers, Spaltro managed to come up with a spectacularly good sound track. He pulled it off with a bit of street-smart ingenuity. He, the struggling filmmaker, contacted many struggling musicians and songwriters and asked them if they'd like to go along for the ride on his film. Many of them agreed enthusiastically (and economically) because they need the exposure. As a result, ... Around is scored as well as any Hollywood film. the songs are both affecting and appropriate for the context in which they are used. The only difference between this sound track and that of a big-budget movie is that the songs are simply good, rather than good and familiar.

Although the writer/director is about the same age as the guy who directed Palo Alto, Ca, and although both films are excellent, they cannot be compared. There is no contrivance at all in ... Around. The lead character has some successes and finds a measure of happiness, but he also fails in his major relationships with the two important women in his life, his mother and his girlfriend. Some of that failure is his fault. Some is theirs. Most of it happens just because they are human beings and have a hard time sorting things out, like the rest of us. Because all of the characters and situations ring true-to-life, you may find some of the plot twists disappointing if you are accustomed to the usual Hollywood formulas. The characters in this film almost never do what we hope they will do. We'd love to see the lead and his kinda-sorta girlfriend work things out better because they are both good people and they seem to need each other, but they are also real human beings and therefore their lives just don't mesh together as conveniently as they might if they were scripted for Kate Hudson. There is also a long-time homeless guy we are rooting for. He shepherds our hero through the rough times on the streets, and we'd love to see him rescued from his life by some kind of Hollywood miracle because he's a decent and obviously intelligent man. Not gonna happen. We just have to accept that his life is what it is, and is probably not going to change.

In fact, we don't even know if our hero's life will change. He gets his film made, but after that ... ?

Oh, hell, we don't even know if the real-life filmmaker's life will change after having told his story successfully. Mr. Spaltro got a good film made by maxxing out more than a dozen credit cards. Unfortunately, his ending is ambiguous. So far, there's no theatrical deal and no DVD. Because the film has been screened at some minor festivals and because the director has actively been distributing screeners, this may be the only film in the IMDb database with more reviews (15 as I write this) than votes (9).

Will anyone besides film critics ever see the film? Will Spaltro ever be able to pay off those credit card balances?

Stay tuned.

Awaiting DVD information ...


No major reviews are online, but  there are more than dozen reviews of ... Around listed at IMDb, and they are almost all enthusiastic.





8.0 IMDB summary (of 10)





Undistributed so far.





There is no real nudity. Molly Ryman poses naked for an art class, but her naughty bits stay covered by the magic of camera angles, arms, and elbows.







Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's an unusual, personal film, neither a Hollywood style confection nor an indie-style rant, but just a guy telling his own story. Original, and worth a look.