Michael de Avila
Burnzy's Last Call: the director's cut" from director Mike de Avila and writer George Gilmore clocks in at 46 minutes and takes us into Eppie's - a New York City dive bar during the late 1980s. It's a relatively simple idea - Burnzy (Sam Gray) and the bartender Sal (James McCaffrey) hang out while regulars weave in and out of the bar throughout the day. The movie was originally released in '95, a little after "Clerks" but before "Tree's Lounge." It's very much a film of its time, but is it really dated? Absolutely! But they did well with the limited budget they had.
The main issue that I had was that "Burnzy's Last Call" couldn't quite figure out what it wanted to be - a film or a tv show. Instead, it lives recklessly between the two forms of storytelling, never gearing towards an episodic payoff or a cinematic conclusion. Instead, jarring us back and forth between R-rated conversations to PG sappy interactions pushing on sentimentality. It was only in one of the closing scenes that I felt the slightest vibe of a movie with Burnzy calling back on old memories of his brother. I wished they had grounded him or Sal as characters a little more. It would have rooted us in the story and more so into the world they exist in.
I also couldn't help but notice that the discovery channel style cutaways were also a constant distraction that took me completely out of whatever momentum was slowly building. I liked the connection that "In nature - a watering hole is like a local tavern or pub" but as a set-up, not necessarily as an editing Segway to pass the time - a bookmark. I did, however, really enjoy seeing some familiar faces pass through the place via some fun cameos from Michael Rispoli (The Rum Diary) and Tony Todd (Candyman). My favorite being Chris Noth's character. With all that's been said, I actually kind of enjoyed "Burnzy's Last Call" despite some of the inconsistencies I wrote about above. Sure, it was a bit of a mess at times, but it definitely had some heart. I believe a solid two stars is where I'm sitting.