CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Independent, SXSW, Cinematical Indie, SXSW Film Festival, Cinematical
I've seen way too many movies over the past five days. Here's a few mini-reviews, in the interest of sanity, time and space.
Here's a case of transparency doing more harm than good. After the premiere of this, his debut feature, Paul Gordon gave away a little too much information about its development. The filmmaker explained that his triptych treatment of a motorcycle's journey through three owners took him three years to complete – partially, because an actress dropped out, forcing him to re-conceptualize the third act entirely, and partially because he shot each segment separately as end-of-the-year projects whilst in film school at UT. The methodology explains a little too much. Motorcycle starts strong, as we follow Chris, a recently dumped 20-something professional, through a few sulky days of newfound singledom. Once it's clear that the girlfriend won't be back for the bra and panties that Chris has carefully tacked on the wall (at anatomically correct intervals) under her picture, Chris channels his post-breakup ennui into remaking himself as some kind of motorcycle-riding mercenary, on the hunt for the perfect jelly donut. It's a great concept and character, and actor Chris Pratt brings enough genuine pathos to the role to inject some kind of integrity onto his absurd plight, making his loopy desperation recognizable to anyone familiar with sudden singleness. Unfortunately, the second and third segments drift away from Chris, toward new characters and into the realm of the so-what, For a student film, Motorcycle's black and white cinematography looks great, and there are occasional bright spots even when it's really, really dull, but one wonders why Gordon felt the need to stretch the concept into a messy, ultimately unsatisfying feature when he could have stopped at a near-brilliant short.
Beware: D-listers now have access to the tools of production, and the result is not so much ugly as really, really silly. In this "documentary", Annabelle Gurwitch, the former star of Dinner and a Movie (yes, that show that used to be on basic cable where they'd cook meals vaguely related to films like Weird Science) hangs out with superstar friends like Illeana Douglas and the guy who plays Jeff on Curb Your Enthusiasm, does her best (still bad) Mary Tyler Moore impersonation, and tells us 497 times that she got fired by Woody Allen. Even better, after she's spent something like 45 minutes convincing us of how cute and bubbly and superficial she can be, she flies to Michigan to do a 10-minute remake of Roger and Me. Such a stunt could have been offensive, if it wasn't so boring. Does Gurwitch really think she's Making a Difference? And if so, why is she hanging out on a roach coach with Andy Dick? The film's tagline? "Rejection has never been this funny!" That says more than I ever could.