Saturday, June 5, 2010

On DVD: "Pressure Cooker"

Erica says that people ask her, "How can she be your favorite teacher? She's so crazy!" They're talking about Wilma Stephenson, the tough-as-nails Culinary Arts instructor at Philadelphia's Frankford High School. Frankford is what tends to be politely called an "inner city" school; it's a little rough, and most of the students are black kids from lower-income families. Mrs. Stephenson doesn't cut anyone a break, though; she speaks distastefully of the "ghetto palate," she calls her students out (loudly) when they make mistakes, she expects them to come in before school and over spring break for extra class. She sounds like Jaime Escalante from Stand and Deliver with a whisk instead of a slide-rule; the stunning documentary Pressure Cooker is the story of her and a group of students that she helps find their way to a real future.

The thirteen students are her seniors, and they have good reason to think she can help; at the beginning of the film, she informs them that her previous class received a combined total of three-quarters of a million dollars in scholarships. Those funds are awarded following a highly competitive cooking competition; her difficult gourmet boot camp will get them in shape for that fateful day. Pressure Cooker tracks their progress, from their practices to the preliminary competition to the finals and beyond.

Directors Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman focus on three students. Tyree Dudley is a mountain of a young man, an All-State football player who can probably get an athletic scholarship, but is hesitant to put all of his eggs in that basket. He's become a skillful chef; his mom tells him, without hesitation, "Hopefully his next move will be to get us out of here... I'm banking on it." Erica Gaither is a cheerleader who has been the de facto mother figure in her home; she takes care of her sister, who is blind and physically disabled, and though her father is supportive, she candidly notes that if he were pressed, he would certainly have no idea how she's going to go to college. Fatoumata Dembele came to America four years earlier from the African nation of Mali not knowing a word of English; she's now a 4.0 student who wants only to escape the clutches of her hidebound parents.

In many ways, the key to this particular kind of cinema vérité doc is to find great "characters"; it seems dishonest to use fiction terminology like that, but there's no better description for compelling, complex people whom the viewer is drawn to. This is where Becker and Grausman hit the jackpot. Throughout the film's 99 minutes, you are genuinely engaged, but more than that, you're invested--you like these kids so much. Tyree is effortlessly funny and warm; he gets laughs all through the film (particularly in a great scene where they're delivering pies and cobblers to teachers for Thanksgiving), but there's a wonderful sweetness to the way he walks his little sister to the bus. Erica's candor and honesty is fascinating; she loves her family, but she knows that if she doesn't get from them now, she never will--and that's not an easy thing to admit. There's a brief interview in which she talks about why going away to school is so very important to her, and there's so much truth and pain in that moment, it just breaks your heart.

But no one's story is more touching than Fautmata's; early in the film, she says, "If I had a scholarship to college, I would go..." and nearly bursts into tears right then, the mere idea of pursuing a higher education is so amazing to her. It's a spontaneous display of hope and emotion seldom seen in real life, much less onscreen. Late in the film, in an interview with the scholarship committee, she talks about her appreciation of the many opportunities she's already been given, and you want to pay her way through school yourself.

There are plenty of other peripheral figures who are equally interesting (Tyree's plump, funny sister; Erica's beaming dad; the wise school football coach), but Mrs. Stephenson is perhaps the most interesting person in the movie. She's a prickly pear, there's no doubt about that--some of her criticisms and objections come off as mean-spirited, and there's perhaps a case to be made that she's too involved with this group of students (as when she insists that Tyree and Erica are going to the prom together). But she's also smart as a whip and funny as hell, and most importantly, she really does care; her anxiety as she waits for them during the final competition is palpable, as is the pride on her face in those cutaways during their school graduation ceremony.

Pressure Cooker is well-shot and impeccably cut, and they were wise to keep the focus fairly narrow; it would have been easy to clutter it up by profiling more of the students. There are occasional, very minor missteps--they probably spend a bit too much time on the prom, and the symbolism of the very last shot is a little too heavy. But the movie is strong and powerful, and the final scenes are unbelievably moving; I basically spent the last twenty minutes of the picture either on the verge of tears, or just over the edge. Pressure Cooker doesn't have quite the same epic scope (or length) as Hoop Dreams, which it closely resembles, but it is cut from the same rich cloth. What an extraordinary film.

"Pressure Cooker" is available now on DVD. For full A/V and bonus feature details, read this review on DVD Talk.

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Theaters: "Ondine"

The fisherman pulls her out of the water, in his nets. She’s unconscious, but somehow, inexplicably, she’s alive; she wakes up and, after the initial shock, she takes a liking to the fisherman, who lets her stay with him. But it’s not until later, when he is keeping his daughter company during her dialysis by telling her the story of his day (“Why’s it always have to start with ‘once upon a time’?” she demands) that we realize what writer/director Neil Jordan is up to: he’s gone back to Ireland and made himself a fairy tale.

The result is Ondine, a lush, sweetly intimate picture that works both as an adult romance and a fantasy. It also marks an unexpected turn for the consistently unpredictable Jordan, who is following up a scattershot biographical comedy and a slick studio thriller with a project that bears little resemblance to anything in his filmography—save for his second picture, the oddball “Little Red Riding Hood” riff Company of Wolves.

The fairy tale overtones are made more explicit the further the story goes, as we discover that the girl, Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) is a first-class beauty with a voice like a Disney heroine. When she sings, in a strange dialect, suddenly there are fish to be caught. Is she some kind of a sea creature? The fisherman, Syracuse (Colin Farrell), isn’t sure, but his daughter Annie (Alison Barry) becomes convinced that Ondine is a “selike”, a mermaid-like creature found in Irish and Scottish mythology. Perhaps Syracuse doesn’t want to know; a kind, gentle soul, he’s a recovering alcoholic (most folks still call him by his drunken nickname, “Circus,” which he was given for the trouble he’d cause when inebriated) who is clearly deeply smitten by this mysterious woman. When she asks how long she can say, he replies wistfully, “If it depends on me, you can stay forever.”

Of course, these things never do last forever. There’s a malevolent danger approaching, someone or something that is looking for Ondine, providing a Big Bad Wolf-style threat to the makeshift family’s “happy ever after.” What to do? “Nothing makes sense,” Syracuse says. “That’s why I’m afraid.” But evil must be faced, and hopefully conquered; by the time the unexpectedly intense climax approaches, we’ve grown attached to the trio, to the love and tenderness between Syracuse and Ondine, to the sweet relationship between the father and daughter, to the burgeoning affection between Annie and her selkie.

Ondine is an absolute charmer, gorgeously photographed by the great Christopher Doyle (Hero, Chunking Express), who shoots the Cork, Ireland locations as a world of greens and blues, of lush, rolling hills, but one that is perpetually overcast—an effective metaphor for the reality around the edges of the fanciful tale. Jordan’s direction is relaxed and enjoyable; his camera is active and involved without being obnoxious about it, and he coaxes natural performances out of newcomers Bachleda and Barry, as well as veterans Farrell (continuing a streak of good work) and his good-luck charm, Stephen Rea, who appears as the village priest. His scenes with Farrell are the picture’s comic highlights, as Syracuse goes to confession because “there’s no AA chapter in this poxy town”; when he informs the priest, from inside the confessional, that his announcement of time sober is supposed to get applause, the priest replies, “Where’d you see that, in a movie?” The supporting roles are filled with naturalistic actors who lend an authenticity to the film—in fact, if there’s a complaint to be heard, it’s that the accents are so thick that, at a couple of important moments, this viewer had to piece a plot turn together from context clues rather than explicit dialogue.

Jordan makes a brave, risky choice in Ondine: to make a film that has infinite potential for absolute silliness, and to then play it straight and make it work. The result is warm, lovely, and lyrical. It’s a perfectly beguiling little movie.

"Ondine" opens today in limited release.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Theaters: "Get Him to the Greek"

We throw around the phrase “party like a rock star” so casually, it’s a little surprising that so few films have gone to the trouble of illustrating the notion. Nicholas Stoller’s Get Him to the Greek does such a thorough job, I can’t imagine anyone else will take a crack at it anytime soon. A “spinoff” (God, that always sounds so unwieldy) of Stoller’s 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Greek takes the supporting character of womanizing rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and places him center stage.

The clever, compact opening sequence brings us up to date: after the spectacular failure of his self-important, exploitative album African Child (the picture opens with a related fake-out that is so well done, I legitimately thought they’d threaded up the wrong print) and the loss of his longtime girlfriend and collaborator Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), Snow has fallen off the wagon, and in a truly spectacular fashion. He’s more of a self-indulgent train wreck than an artist these days, but when high-powered music executive Sergio Roman (Sean “P. Diddy” Combs) starts grilling his staff for new ideas, junior executive Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) puts one out there—the tenth anniversary of the celebrated Greek Theater concert by Snow and his band Infant Sorrow is fast approaching, so an anniversary concert (with tie-in pay-per-view, DVD, and CD) could be just the boost that both the artist and the label need. For his trouble, Aaron is given an impossible job: He has 72 hours to retrieve the rock star from London, take him to New York for a promotional appearance on the Today show, and then get him to the Greek for the big show.

The ticking clocks of those deadlines help give the picture a pulse and a good-natured, fast pace. Stoller is not the most inventive director—too many of his dialogue scenes fall into easy TV-style coverage, and when things go batshit insane in the Las Vegas suite late in the film, the chaos is too orderly, too controlled to cut loose the way it should. But he’s good at creating a level-headed insanity, at setting up funny situations, putting broad but plausible characters into them, and following things through to their logical conclusions. His screenplay seizes on the most interesting beats of Jason Segal’s script for Sarah Marshall—the later scenes, in which Snow was pulled out from his cheeky villainous construct and allowed enough complexity to give the central conflict some depth. It’s easy to play the ridiculous navel-gazing twit (Eric Bogosian did a similar character, right down to the British ancestry and shallow charitable leanings, clear back in 1990’s Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll), but in the third act, as he sees through Sarah Marshall’s petty jealousies or gives Peter some laid-back, good-natured advice, the character become unexpectedly likable and memorable. In Get Him to the Greek, Aldous Snow is a real character, with fleeting moments of doubt, bitterness, vulnerability, darkness. Stoller’s writing, and Brand’s playing, navigates those transitions gingerly without circumventing the character’s explosive comic potential.

Jonah Hill manages to take what is basically a straight man role and spark it up with his tossed-off readings and wide-eyed wonder; his big, moony face is his best weapon here, particularly in an uproarious shot that dreamily tilts down to Aaron bouncing on the dance floor, intoxicated by his first, sublime taste of absinthe. Hill and Brand make for a good team, with their Mutt and Jeff looks, complimentary sensibilities, and well-matched rhythms. Hill’s on-screen relationship with Elisabeth Moss (from Mad Men) is also surprisingly well-done; it looks at first to be another credibility-stretcher from the Apatow factory (one of these guys should have an average-looking girlfriend, just once), but there is a giddy, playful vibe to their interplay, and when he reminds her of who The Mars Volta is by hitting a remote and playing a perfectly chosen snippet (and seeming to sing along), we’re sold. (Stoller also leans their relationship into an unexpected but explosively funny right turn in the third act.)

But Combs turns in perhaps the most entertaining performance in the movie—I again plead with him to quit his day job. As the seen-it-all music honcho, his straight-faced, barely-contained rage manifests itself in some of the best slow-burn comic acting this side of Edgar Kennedy. When he sits Aaron down and explains exactly how to handle the talent, he’s practical and straight-shooting (“We don’t lie to people,” he explains, “we just believe invalid truths”), but he’s got enough of a dangerous fire in his eyes (as he did in Made) that when he goes off the deep end in Vegas, you get why Aldous and Aaron run for the hills. The film also features a roll call of pop culture cameos (it’s about the only film that could feasibly include both Paul Krugman and Pharrell), all of them in on the gag.

Get Him to the Greek hums right along, tackling its comic scenarios with wit and precision, and its throwaway gags are frequently just as funny as the big set pieces (Hill’s Las Vegas heroin run takes what would be, in any other movie, a 20 minute sequence and compresses it into about 30 seconds of slam-bang hilarity). And mention should be made of the music, which is just well-crafted and catchy enough for Aldous’s fame to be believable (I would totally have “The Clap” on my iPod), settling just on this side of parody. And what the hell, most pop music is self-parody these days anyway. If Get Him to the Greek doesn’t quite match the emotional resonance of its predecessor, it more than tops it in comic ingenuity—and manages to get at something real and genuine about fame and fandom in its closing scenes. It’s funny and sweet, and a damned good time besides.

"Get Him to the Greek" opens nationwide on Friday, June 4th.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Theaters: "Double Take"

Too often avant-garde or experimental cinema, for all of its value, fails on a basic level of engagement; somewhere it seems to be written that, these days anyway, we can’t have a good time at far-out movies. There are experimental filmmakers out there, yes, and they’re doing work that is groundbreaking and earnest and thumbs its nose at convention and pretention, but good God, some of it is just plain unwatchable. Well, Johan Grimonprez’s Double Take is, for all intents and purposes, an experimental movie—a weirdo assemblage of archival footage, marginally connected text, re-enactments of imagined events, and oddball flights of fancy. I’m still not quite sure how it all fits together, except as a free-form film essay on everything from Alfred Hitchcock, the Cold War, and doppelgangers to outer space, television, and coffee. But it is enthralling cinema.

The subject is ostensibly Hitchcock, but he’s no more the primary topic than Orson Welles was in his similarly freewheeling F for Fake. A bit of a structure is provided by novelist Tom McCarthy, who wrote the film’s “story”—a fanciful tale (inspired by the short story “25 August, 1983” by Jorge Luis Borges) in which Hitch describes an incident in 1962 when he was called away from the set of The Birds for a phone call, and ended up meeting the 1980 version of himself. “They say that if you meet your double, you should kill him,” he notes. “Or he will kill you.” The notion of Hitchcock and his “double” is furthered by the film’s brilliant intercutting of his movie trailer and Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV appearances; gaps are filled in by vocal and physical doubles, but the film steps away from them to show us the impersonators at work.

Running parallel to the Hitchcock story is a fragmented, tricky portrait of Cold War-era America—the space race, the Nixon-Kruschev “kitchen debate,” the Nixon-Kennedy debates, the Cuban missile crisis. The first response to all of this, for the viewer pulled in by the Hitchcock angle that the trailers and print materials have been pushing, is simple: What the hell does any of this have to do with Hitchcock? And then the answer comes, the deeper we get into the picture: everything. It’s all about context; we forget, watching his films as isolated pieces of pop art, that his work didn’t exist in a vacuum. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, he wasn’t just making fanciful potboilers anymore—there was a fear and paranoia in the air, and his best work tapped into that existential dread. In his hopscotch construction, director Grimonprez folds and twists McCarthy and Borges’s fictional (but plausible) tale into Hitch’s real career, and then into Hitch’s America.

In doing that, he keeps plenty of plates spinning—I haven’t even mentioned the breaks for commercial “interruptions” (“Crime does not pay,” Hitchcock explains. “You must have a sponsor”). Grimonperez is both a literalist and an impressionist, in thrall to an abstract visual, the power of an odd cut, the jolt of a piece of old film (like the newsreel footage of the plane that flew into the Empire State building in 1945, and all of its worrisome allusions), the pleasure of an evocative music cue (Christian Halten’s score is augmented by some of the Bernard Hermann cues it so elegantly calls to mind). He’s an intellectual director, but still a sensual one.

Double Take is an odd, playful, intriguing film, and while some of it is downright inexplicable, it never loses your interest. Grimonperez somehow manages to craft a film that works as an avant-garde trick, a historical documentary, and cinematic exploration, all at the same time, none at the expense of the other. I’m not sure how he did it; I’m not sure what compelled him to try. But the result is brilliant.

"Double Take" opens Wednesday, June 2nd at New York's Film Forum.

Monday, May 31, 2010

On DVD: "The Wolfman"

Joe Johnston’s new take on The Wolfman wants to be Coppola’s Dracula so bad, it can taste it. It’s a modern, CG-tempered take on a classic Universal horror tale; it’s impeccably designed in true Gothic fashion, yet splattered with blood and gore a-plenty; and it stars an actor’s actor (Oldman there, Benicio del Toro here), a lovely young up-and-comer (Ryder there, Emily Blunt here), and Anthony Hopkins. There’s not a Keanu in sight, but that’s about the only advantage this picture holds over its predecessor. In execution, it’s more like Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (also penned by this film’s co-writer, Andrew Kevin Walker)—it’s got the look down pat, but there’s not much happening script-wise.

From its opening sequences, something seems off—the timing is wrong, and it feels like large chunks of the scenes are missing, replaced by bad dialogue buttons. Example? Del Toro: “I didn’t know you hunt monsters.” Other guy: “Sometimes monsters hunt you.” (Yeah? And?) I’m as much an Emily Blunt fan as the next guy, but she and Del Toro can’t do a thing with their tepid romance (it actually includes a scene where he teaches her how to skip rocks; that kind of nonsense went out in roughly 1948). And for all the impressiveness of Rick Baker’s make-up effects—and seriously, he’s the go-to guy for them—they mesh uneasily with the weightless, cartoony CGI of the monster in motion.

There’s things that work. The asylum sequence is wonderfully delirious (it’s like we’ve suddenly switched over to a batshit crazy, but infinitely more entertaining, picture), as is the topper scene with the roomful of doctors. This may be another Hopkins paycheck role, but it’s fun to watch him hiss his campy lines at Del Toro (“You’ve done terrrrrrible thingssssss,” he snarls at one point). And there are some arresting visuals, particularly an overhead shot of blood-stained fingers plinking the ivory keys of a piano. But the whole thing is turgid (it feels way longer than its 102 minutes), and ultimately forgettable; it’s out of your brain by the time you hit fresh air.

"The Wolfman" hits DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, June 1st.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

On TV: "Curb Your Enthusiasm- The Complete Seventh Season"

When we last saw Larry David, in the wonderfully subversive sixth-season closer of Curb Your Enthusiasm, he was falling into the arms of Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox), the lovely matriarch of the displaced Louisiana family the Davids had taken in after Hurricane Katrina, rather than those of his recently estranged wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). It was an ingenious and unexpected ending to a season that brilliantly recharged the series, which had run five seasons with the same basic combination of elements: Larry the misanthrope, Cheryl the understanding wife, Jeff (Jeff Garlin) the partner in crime, examinations and explosions of the minutiae of daily life and the rules of polite society. It wasn’t that the series had gotten into a rut, per se, and the clever notion of creating a season-long overall arc for each year (the restaurant in season three, The Producers in season four, Lewis’s kidney transplant in season five) helped keep the situations fresh. But when Cheryl and Larry separated midway through season six, in a clear reflection of David’s real-life split from his wife Laurie, it revitalized the show in several ways. First and foremost, it shook up the general make-up of the series. Second, it opened up a gold mine of comic situations—putting a character as well-defined as Larry out into the dating pool was a stroke of genius. But third, and most intriguingly, we saw an honest-to-God case of an artist transforming the pain of his real life into art. Whether you’re a fan of Curb or one of those inexplicable people who loathes it, all parties can agree that (lovable or hateable) Larry is basically a dick. But for the first time, at the end of season six and into season seven, we start to see that dick’s vulnerability.

Season seven manages to embrace that new direction while simultaneously engaging in the show’s most blatant grab at nostalgia to date, by introducing a season-long storyline of Larry finally putting together a Seinfeld reunion show. David devises a clever way to introduce the arc, when David bumps into Cheryl at a restaurant and finds himself genuinely missing her (God forbid, some poignancy!), starts thinking about getting her back, and then runs into her on his way to a meeting with NBC. She confesses that she’s started acting again, and is impressed that the network wants to put him back to work. He’s suddenly entertaining fantasies of casting her on the reunion show, and the stars in her eyes as she sees him as, well, the master of his domain. So the Curb incarnation of Larry David does a Seinfeld reunion show to impress his wife and get her back—and the meta-minded viewer is left to wonder whether the Curb writer/producer Larry David did a Seinfeld reunion on his show to accomplish the same goal.

This was the angle most embraced and promoted in the run up to the shows, though (as with the previous serialized storylines) it doesn’t quite dominate the season—it’s not introduced until episode three, and is only directly related to about half of the season’s ten episodes. The primary subject is our curmudgeonly hero and his continuing adventures as the unhidden Id—swimming through the pretty but shallow pool of Hollywood, offering up his unsolicited opinions and tactless reactions. It’s not that Larry doesn’t know how he’s supposed to act; he just doesn’t care, and his immense wealth and independence has allowed him the freedom to be exactly who the hell he wants to be. He’s perpetually put upon, but he brings so much of it on himself, he’s both the victim and the perpetrator.

As with Seinfeld, the show is at its best when Larry questions the unspoken rules of polite society—as a writer, he has always picked up on the little social norms and daily questions that the rest of us tend to shrug off (but not in the “have you even noticed?” fashion of so many bad comics). He’s outraged by the visiting doctor who goes into his fridge for a lemonade without asking; “Liquids are okay,” explains Marty Funkhauser (Bob Einstein), as if this is common knowledge. When Jeff’s wife Susie (Susie Essman) invites him to a dinner party and refuses to divulge the other guests, it is with the disgusted rejoinder that “It’s not done!” But Larry demands that others play by his rules, as when he accuses Christian Slater of “going over your allotment” as he hordes the caviar at a dinner party, or is infuriated by Jason Alexander’s refusal to engage in “tip coordination” when they pay their checks at a business lunch. Best of all is his heated battle with Rosie O’Donnell over who takes the check—the “inviter” (who invited the other to lunch) or the “toucher” (who grabbed it first)—which becomes an uproariously physical confrontation. He also continues the show’s fine tradition (another Seinfeld holdover) of adroitly bringing each episode’s various disparate storylines together into one unified conclusion; only Curb could tie together, as it does in the season’s second episode, the dangers of vehicular fellatio and the irritation of vacuum-sealed plastic (with an unreasonably hilarious Mohamed Atta reference to boot).

David continues to engage as a performer—his big comic beats in this season are particularly funny (especially when he finds himself driving around and singing “Officer Krupke” from West Side Story at top volume), and there’s a real joy of watching Larry—the original “George Costanza”—and Seinfeld working together, bouncing off each other, utilizing the conversational rhythms developed over years of friendship and partnership. (In his Curb appearances, Seinfeld cultivates an on-screen persona that makes stand-offish into a bold comic choice.) But then, in many ways, the show is all about the scene partners; the cast works from David’s intricate outlines but not a set script, so when he finds a performer with the improvisational acumen to match him—the way Jerry or Jeff or J.B. Smoove as Leon does—it makes him better. Consequently, one of the season’s few flaws is that, by necessity, it has less of Cheryl Hines; when she shows back up midway through the season for her audition and reacts perfectly to the situation with Larry’s semi-stolen pants, you realize how much her exasperated counterbalance has been missed.

There are a few other minor missteps, primarily when the comedy goes too cloddish and starts to feel desperate (as in Larry’s slapstick lovemaking with a handicapped woman, or the business with the Jesus painting). And in the final two episodes, dealing with the table read and production of the Seinfeld reunion show, too much of the material is repeated—a shame, because so much of it so very good, effortlessly recapturing that show’s characterizations and cadences (which are, in fact, quite different from this one’s). And there is genuine fanboy pleasure in the final episode’s glimpses of the finished product—which are directed by longtime Seinfeld director Andy Ackerman. That’s perhaps the most interesting surprise in those episodes, that David didn’t shy away from the challenge of actually doing (at least part) of a Seinfeld reunion. Come to find out, they actually could have done it. But it was better this way, as a masterful folding of two terrific comedies into one—allowing not just a return of Jerry and the gang, but a chance for Jason Alexander to play himself as a pretentious boor (he’s just put out a slender book on his art, titled “Acting Without Acting”), for Larry David to self-flagellate for the series finale (everyone expresses their desire to “make up for the finale”), and for a commentary on Michael Richards’s PR troubles that is downright brilliant.

The Seinfeld reunion was the element of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s seventh season that piqued everyone’s interest, and those episodes are beautifully done. But there’s much more happening in these ten episodes; unlike David’s previous series, Curb is a show that is continuing to take big chances and unusual risks deep into its run, while maintaining the acid tongue, clever construction, and wry point of view that has made it such a terrific comic series.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season" hits DVD on Tuesday, June 8th. For full A/V and bonus feature details, read this review on DVD Talk.