Movie Review: “Approaching Midnight”


Broadly speaking, awful movies fall into two categories — awfully bad in a funny way, and awfully bad period.
“Approaching Midnight” staggers into the latter category, an excruciatingly dull, badly written, badly-acted vanity project for writer-director-star Sam Logan Khaleghi.
A tale of an Afghan War vet who sees his best friend die in an ineptly-staged bit of combat, who then returns home to a rural Louisiana town where nobody has a Louisiana accent, where all the women are stunning and to a one, warm for his form, “Midnight” is 86 minutes of your life you will never get back.
Wesley Kent (Khaleghi) lost his best friend in Afghanistan and his girlfriend while he was in combat. We see the gorgeous but bland Aspen (Jana Kramer) in flashbacks. We have to. She died while Wesley was serving his country. She was the daughter of the mayor (Jeffrey Stetson, dreadful), a man who is running for governor, a fact that casts a “mysterious circumstances” shadow over Aspen’s death.
Her unutterably beautiful sister (Mia Serafino) trusts their daddy and is more interested in picking up with Wesley where Aspen left off. The mayor’s campaign manager (Michelle Lynne Balser) likewise is more interested in the soldier than the soldier’s questions about how Aspen died. Wesley keeps drifting into flashbacks — of combat, of his boring first few dates with Aspen.
In the movies, one sure sign of a vanity project is the sort of people the vain one surrounds himself with on screen. Khaleghi’s ladies are lookers with limited screen presence. Even the woman playing his sister (Jessica René Hilzey) could stop a clock.
Another giveaway of a vanity project is pretentious, preachy dialogue. “Approaching Midnight” has no conversations in it — just characters, mainly Khaleghi’s — delivering long monologues at one another.
“Remember, Mr. Mayor, after the game, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.”
“Approaching Midnight” has no urgency that propels the story forward. Scenes falls flat, the performances are universally stiff, the relationships and character names are confusing and under-explained and the production values lacking. When a barmaid pours beers out of a pitcher, you know they’re not shooting in a real bar, with taps. When a character mutters “I’m not sure much (sic) of us have use for a VHS,” there must have been nobody on the set to correct the writer-director-star’s grammar.
Which goes for the entire movie, which needed rewrites and script doctoring a lot more than it needed that Louisiana filmmaking incentive money that got it made.

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, language, some action violence and brief smoking
Cast: Sam Logan Khaleghi, Jana Kramer, Mia Serafino, Jeffrey Stetson, Michelle Lynne Balser
Credits: Written and directed by Sam Logan Khaleghi. A Monterrey Media release.
Running time: 1:26

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Movie Review: “Approaching Midnight”

  1. Christian says:

    Roger, firstly, I am quite saddened by your negative review of this Amazing film which is well written, and spectacularly directed . My uncle was an extra in this film and he is a real veteran, and a member of The American Legion (proceeds from the opening night were donated to the Legion and actual Legion members helped make this movie possible). He was a consultant in making this film real, and this film is Amazing in many ways you simply seemed to ignore. First how hard is it to get a film made? Many hard working families spent hours, months and years to get this film made. I get that you are well established journalist, but have you ever attended a Sundance workshop session and attempted to make your own movie? You have been really hard on a lot of movies lately that as a consumer, teacher and educator of the arts, I have personally enjoyed greatly. Making a film is not an easy task (heck, making “Weekend at Bernies Part 2” was probably not an easy task just as “Citizen Kane” wasn’t). On a couple side notes, the production filmed in a “real bar” indeed with “real veterans” where “pitchers” are used instead of “Taps” (as for someone who lived in a small town in Alabama, I can assure you that pitchers are often utilized) and at this “real bar”, and they are also credited in the credits for locations is Rochester Mills Brewery which can be seen on Staff Sergeant Kent’s glass of beer in the seen. Not to mention, a lower budget film is not going to spend money to “build a bar set” , that’s just silly thinking. The film was not the recipient of ANY film incentive programs (not Louisiana nor Michigan’s, which obvious you didn’t pay attention to the end credits or check with the film office). So your last statement just blasted an indie movie which like all indie films obviously utilized blood, sweat and tears to make, not just big dollars. Also people who talk in real life don’t often speak or write in “proper grammar” … I have to applaud this filmmaker for doing such an amazing job on levels that as a critic, probably aren’t able to be comprehended. They worked hard to make a great film and paid their dues and honored our American vets in doing so. Period. If this is Khaleghi’s “El Mariachi” … I can’t wait to see his “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time”. Anyhow, as frustrated as I am to see you tearing up so many great films, I am still a reader of your web-site, and equally in applauding the filmmakers, I do applaud you as a journalist for going to school, dreaming of such big dreams and achieving being on TV, CNN and being a movie reviewer. Good job Roger.

    • Sorry your “uncle” wasted his time on a piece of hackwork. BTW, I’ve been on CNN, MSNBC, NPR. It’s not a “goal.” Your goal? “Brevity is the soul of wit.” What a pointless, long-winded rant over nothing. Who cares about locations, how “hard” it was to make a bad movie? Some of us know that. And are underwhelmed.

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