Empire II

** (Two stars)
In Empire II, director Amos Poe remakes Andy Warhol's eight-hour classic, Empire (1964), into what looks like a three-hour music video—starring New York City. You are essentially watching a particular city locale on fast-forward with a cool soundtrack mixed in. The film was shot over the course of a  year from Poe's West Village apartment window, using a single-framing digital camera technique. While this extensive footage was condensed into three hours, you still feel like you've been in the theater for an eternity. The finished product could best be compared to a coffee table book: aesthetically pleasing and beautifully edited, but not meant to be read through in one sitting. Poetic? Yes. Beautifully composed? Yes. Could the director have conveyed the same vision in an hour or even thirty minutes? Absolutely! More than half of the audience during my screening left within the first half hour. However, as my fight-or-flight instincts kicked in, watching the entire film became a survival-of-the-fittest mission for me. I had hoped that when I walked through the theater door as the last man standing, alarms would go off and I would win a grand prize. All I got was a pat on the back from an impressed usher, and I realized I would have preferred a refund instead, consisting of three precious hours of my life back.—Nina Christensen, editorial intern

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.] 

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