Friday, August 8, 2008
Movie review and filmmaker interview: Baghead
Guerrilla filmmaking gone amusingly awry.
Filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass - interviewed below - came up with a very clever idea to get film festivals interested in their indie pic, Baghead: they built their twisty plot around a group of wanna-be film auteurs who are inspired to create their own movie after attending a film festival.
TV vet Ross Partridge plays Matt, who initially comes up with the idea of kick-starting his own acting career and those of his friends by crafting a screenplay and giving themselves all the lead roles. His friends include Steve Zissis as the self-esteem-challenged Chad; Matt's erstwhile girlfriend Catherine (the lovely Elise Muller); and Chad's totally unrequited love interest, the preternaturally goofy Michelle (portrayed by the preternaturally-goofy Greta Gerwig).
This crazy-quilt quartet retires to a friend's cabin on Big Bear Lake to brainstorm their film script in what they think is going to be quiet isolation. (They at least got the quiet part right.)
Ideas prove distressingly hard to come by, with one of Michelle's dreams holding the most promise. In it, she recalls seeing a figure standing in the dark on the edge of the surrounding woods with a paper sack over his head. He just stands there, staring at her, until she wakes up screaming. Immediately, Matt grabs onto this promising plot device with both artistic paws. He sets out - amidst the soap operatic romantic byplay going on amongst the foursome - to patch together a workable screen story.
Speaking of soaps: poor Chad just can't seem to make any headway with the perky page-boy blond object of his affections. Michelle is, in fact, enamored of Matt, as is Catherine, though he (Matt) is totally over her (Catherine). And Chad has extracted a solemn oath from Matt in regard to any possible fooling around with Michelle: she is specifically off-limits.
Ironically, Elvis-coiffed Matt - attractor of women - is reduced to self-pleasuring in an upstairs bedroom when he's supposed to be crafting the script. Worse, he's caught at it.
Meanwhile, Michelle assumes she's being visited by Matt in her bedroom (it's a guy with a sack on his head, in what appears to be Matt's clothing, so who else could it be - right?), so she plays along with his sexy little game by stripping out of her top. But the guy in the sack isn't biting (though he is heavy-breathing), and she's beginning to get the idea that this whole seduction routine might have been incredibly ill-conceived...
Tense relationship fallout and unexpected partnerships form the core of this quirky, funny, suspenseful and finally satisfying gem of an independent film. Hopefully, we'll soon be seeing more from the minds of Duplass.
GIVE ME THE HARD STUFF: "I don't want bullshit ice cream - I want Häagen Dazs." - Chad
HONESTLY, THEY'RE JUST GOOD FRIENDS: "You're cute and you're funny." - Matt to Chad
MOST SOLEMN OF VOWS: "Swear on your left gonad you're not gonna sleep with her." - Chad to Matt, re. Michelle
HOW DOST THOU LOVE ME? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS: "You're like my best friend but also my brother." - Michelle to the crestfallen Chad