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Russian Oleg (Oleg Tartakov) and Hungarian Emil (Karel Rodin) arrive in New York to collect money owed from a robbery and soon embark on a crime spree. Emil dreams of fame and fortune while Oleg, who idolises Frank Capra, videotapes their crimes. They plan to sell their footage to a tabloid TV show hosted by Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer) and plead not guilty on grounds of insanity caused by childhood abuse. Investigating the case is celebrity cop Eddie Fleming (Robert De Niro) and fire department detective Jody Warsaw (Edward Burns).

Review by Richard Kuipers:
I liked this film much more the second time around on DVD. It actually plays better on the small screen than in a cinema. The ideas it explores centre on tabloid television and fame at any price and the idiot box provides quite a suitable venue for Oleg and Emil's murder spree. What writer-director John Herzfeld is attempting to say about the barbarism eroding American society is worthwhile, although still delivered a little too clumsily to make the grade. Had the film been realised as intelligently as his excellent commentary track it may have been a different matter! Individually the elements are good, beginning with a couple of east European killers fed on a diet of American TV junk who decide to film their grisly deeds because this is the land where "no-one has to accept responsibility".

A tabloid TV show driven by the credo "if it bleeds it leads" and the celebrity cop and his non media savvy "honest" cop partner caught in the middle round out the list. It's not too much of a stretch to believe Oleg and Emil could make a financial killing from the real-life killings. Nor is the willingness of the program to broadcast the home movie too difficult to accept. Unfortunately scenes like the one in which the killers sit down at Planet Hollywood during the broadcast with the expectation they'll be received as celebrities gives it Natural Born Killers knee-jerk but not enough cogent thesis to make Herzfeld's concerns hit the mark.

The additional material does it better. A group of lawyers, police and journalists discuss some of the key issues for about an hour and although it's badly filmed and edited the debate is engrossing. You may also be engrossed by some of the weird and wonderful information on the Fact Track subtitle option. Did you know that the unemployment rate in Russia in 1999 was 12.4% or that the U.S. admits 675,000 immigrants anually? My favourite 'fact' was 'investigative reporters work irregular hours and undergo dangerous conditions to deliver accurate and impartial news?!' 15 Minutes hasn't made a huge leap forward in my estimations but this release makes it a much more interesting experience and it's worth another visit for anyone who wasn't that impressed on first look.

Published January 3, 2002

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

U.S. (2001)

CAST: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer, Avery Brooks, Oleg Tartakov, Karel Rodin
DIRECTOR: John Herzfeld

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: December 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen 2.35:1, Audio Commentary with Director John Herzfeld, Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary, Trailer, Documentaries: 'True Tabloid Stars' and 'Does Crime Pay?', Music Video: 'Fame' by God Lives Underwater, Oleg's Video, Rehearsal Scenes, Filmographies, Trailer, Fact Track subtitle option. Language: English. Subtitles: English.

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