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Review: 'Craigslist Joe' teases but doesn't deliver

The documentary doesn't address some obvious issues, like who is Joe.

August 03, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • A scene from "Craigslist Joe."
A scene from "Craigslist Joe."

The documentary "Craigslist Joe" fulfills its unique premise — a young filmmaker will spend a month traveling the U.S. surviving solely on the connections he makes using über-popular "online flea market" Craigslist — without providing much in the way of stakes, obstacles, tension or, frankly, greater meaning.

In December 2008, armed with only a smartphone, laptop, toothbrush, the clothes on his back and, oh, yes, a cameraman (whom he met on Craigslist, natch), director-star Joseph Garner journeyed from his L.A. home, across the country and back, securing free transport, food, shelter and friendship via the apparent kindness of strangers who populate the cult of Craigslist. One wonders, however, how much of this quickie bonhomie toward Garner came from these eclectic folks' desire to be in a movie.

Unfortunately, for as much as we may learn about the swath of do-gooders, denizens, artists and activists Garner encounters as he free-rides to such cities as Portland, Chicago, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco (where he meets Craigslist founder Craig Newmark), little is revealed about Garner himself.

The film also sidesteps Craigslist's reputation as an occasional portal for Internet predators. It's an issue that had to have caused at least passing concern for the strangers-dependent Garner — not to mention for his seemingly devoted parents.

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"Craigslist Joe." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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