What Do You Do All Day

Writer-actor Matthew Weiner's directorial feature debut, What Do You Do All Day is a slight, unimaginative comedy concerning a failed Jewish writer who's a compulsive gambler. Shot in a striking black-and-white, cinema verite style, picture struggles hard to be dark and droll, but unappealing cast and unoriginal story almost dictate the festival road for this low-budget indie.

Using real-life events and persona, tale revolves around Matt (Matthew Weiner), an aspiring writer and graduate of USC Film School, who's supported by his hard-working architect wife, Linda (Linda Brettler). A TV-junkie, Matt spends most of his time at home, in front of the tube or taking lengthy baths while fantasizing about a bigger share in the American Dream.

An obsessive gambler, Matt gets into trouble when his golf bets result in a debt of $12,000–and two chasing thugs. When his outraged wife refuses to ask her mother for the money, Matt hits the streets of L.A. in his old Citroen, seeking help and sympathy from friends, family, and even strangers.

Structured as an odyssey, yarn is meant to be a witty black comedy, but for the most part it tediously rehashes or reworks ideas from other indies about wannabe filmmakers. Though semi-autobiographical and self-reflexively narrated, What Do You Do All Day offers no new insights about writing–or love and marriage.

Productions values, particularly stylized black-and-white lensing by Rob Sweeney, who won the Sundance cinematography award this year for Christopher Munch's Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day, are more impressive than the narrative or acting. Playing the lead role as a stereotypical Jewish whiner, Weiner lacks the necessary charisma to overcome the vastly uneven script and unmodulated direction. Rich Eames' music is pleasantly melodic, but too imitative of Nino Rota's scores for Fellini.