[box cover]

Sunshine State

John Sayles is the very definition of the independent filmmaker. Didactic, always writing about the struggles of the working class, Sayles is interested in people first — something he's stood for since his first film, 1980's Return of the Secaucus 7. He may be the exact opposite of all that Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay stand for. Yet after watching one of his movies, one may wish the two sides could meet somewhere in the middle — when Sayles is at his worst he is too dry, too obvious, and just plain un-cinematic. His 2002 Sunshine State features many of his best and worst characteristics. Taking the genre he's best at (the microcosm melodrama), Sunshine State is about a Florida community under pressure from retirement developers who want their land. Holdouts include Marly Temple (Edie Falco), whose father owns a nearby restaurant and hotel, and much of the African American community — led by Dr. Lloyd (Bill Cobbs) — who remember when the area was the only place blacks could go to vacation. While land developers circle (including Miguel Ferrer), Marly begins a relationship with architect Jack Meadows (Timothy Hutton), who works for one of the development companies. Meanwhile, Desiree Perry (Angela Basset) returns home for the first time in years with her new husband, and with her arrival the scars from her old life resurface. Sayles takes great pains to make sure the audience knows that the developers are greedy and slimy people in Sunshine State, and his sermon will probably work best for the choir. That said, he's a good writer, and the film is populated by talented actors, with good leads in Basset and Falco. In fact, they make the picture interesting enough that one wishes that the obviousness of its satire (like Mary Steenburgen's shallow theme-week planning character) wasn't so self-satisfied. Columbia TriStar's DVD edition of Sunshine State presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.0 audio. Extras include an audio commentary by Sayles and trailers for this and three other Sayles films. Keep-case.

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