Friday, April 13, 2012
Dallas International Film Festival preview: Cinema Six
Is Cinema Six sick? Maybe, but it’s good ‘n’ honest filmmaking.
In Cinema Six (playing on April 13 and 14 at Landmark Magnolia), the writer/director duo of Mark Potts and Cole Selix set out to answer a question many have to answer at some point in their lives: Do you stay where it’s comfortable, or do you leave and brave the unknown? (Or, more simply thanks to The Clash: “Should I stay or should I go?”).
Potts and Selix both cull from personal experience to tell the tales of three friends who work at a small movie theater in Enid, Okla. Dennis, Gabe and Mason all dream of something better, but they’re actually content with their unremarkable lifestyles—punctuated by the easy-going monotony of their place of employment.
If it weren’t for the staggered ages of the leads, Cinema Six might appear to be a coming-of-age story. But it’s not, at least in the traditional sense.
“There isn’t an age at which you’re supposed to figure out what your life is all about,” said Potts, who also plays Gabe in the film. “It can really come at any time. So in that respect it is a coming-of-age film, but it’s also about guys and the friendships they have, and how friends can say the things you really need to hear.”
Beyond the film’s hysterical parade of irate or absurd theater patrons, the trio deal with all sorts of personal challenges. Mason is trying to cut back on work to be with his family. Gabe is debating whether or not to go to college. And Dennis just really has no problem with always taking the easy road.
The chemistry of the leads—Potts, John Merriman (Mason) and Brand Rackley (Dennis)—jumps off the screen as much as the outlandish, expletive-filled dialog that brings to mind films such as Superbad and Animal House. But while the levels of profanity may be off-putting to some, the cast is actually demonstrating how trusted friends talk to and challenge one another, Potts says. Real friends don’t soft-soap things to each other, and they cut to the chase even if the other person’s not ready for it because those jabs eventually turn out to be needed advice.
“That’s how we talk when we’re around one another,” Potts said. “The dialog changes when Mason is around his wife, or when they are out in public as well. But when they’re at the theatre amongst friends and co-workers, that’s when things get profane, and that’s how we are.
“The idea that Mason needs to stop swearing so much or his kid will learn it is very true for Cole since he has kids.”
Amid Cinema Six’s vulgarity and satire—some more true to life than you’d believe—lies heart as well as some notable star power in legendary Hollywood character actor Barry Corbin, who stops in to offer one character some sage advice infused with his trademark Texas Panhandle flair.
“Barry is probably one of the coolest guys we know,” Potts said. “We were incredibly nervous about working with him, but he showed up to set and was just calm, cool, and making jokes with us.
“Afterward, he sat around with us and talked about his filmmaking experiences and it was one of the best moments we’ve ever had making a movie. He’s a great actor and a great person.”
Another un-credited cameo (we won’t name the name, but it’s one of the most surprising at DIFF 2012) effortlessly joins in the onscreen madness. If you’re craving truly realistic comedic narrative and have never worked at a theater, Cinema Six shows what life is like on the other side of the ticket booth.
“We’re hoping everyone can find something from this movie, as cliched as that sounds,” Potts said. “We staggered the main characters’ age because, as we said before, we think people can discover what to do with their lives at any age.”
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