It Came from the Bargain Bin: Tadpole

Before I dig into this retro (!) review, let me first explain something. See, back when I was in my early 20s in New York City, I had a day job where I entered DVD and VHS release information into a database that then got sold to companies who needed databases of information like this, like Tower Records. You remember record stores… right?

Anyway, naturally, this meant that the company I was working for had a pretty close relationship with both the major and the minor video distributors and studios. This also means that from time to time, they would send us screener copies of movies that are about to come out on DVD and/or VHS. These copies got passed around the office and housed somewhere until the day someone got sick of seeing them in their cubicle and put them in the breakroom for anyone to take. That’s how I got a hold of a review copy of Tadpole and that’s when I decided to write a DVD review. I’ve cleaned it up since then, but for the most part, I have not looked at this since I first wrote it in 2004. Continue reading “It Came from the Bargain Bin: Tadpole

Trisha’s Take: Cyrus review


Directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill
Rated R for language and some sexual material

Back when I had a Netflix account, I went on an indie movie-watching spree, and that’s where I encountered the concept behind “actor’s workshop” films for the first time.

For the people who aren’t acting or film geeks, I’ll explain. An actor’s workshop film is one where a bunch of actor who are taking classes together take what they’ve learned and make a movie out of it. The coolest thing, though, is that some of the best actors are always taking classes and workshops to hone their craft even further. Another thing I learned about was the mumblecore movement, wherein production is very low-budget, conversations are improvised, and the focus is on characterization over complicated plots.

Multi-hyphenate brothers Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, who helped form the latter, seem to have taken the best of what’s cool about an actor’s workshop film, given it a mumblecore feel, and turned it loose into the world.

The plot to Cyrus is pretty simple. John C. Reilly stars as John, a divorcé who never really got out of the depressive funk that drove his now-ex-wife (Catherine Keener) away seven years ago. Strangely enough, they’re still friends—and may possibly also work together—and after she tells him that she’s getting married again, she tries to get him out of his rut by forcing him to go to a party. There he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) who sees something charming in his sad sack and “drunk on Red Bull and vodka” exterior and follows him back to his place.

However, she doesn’t stick around in the morning, but instead leaves him a note. Intrigued but not scared off, John invites her over for a proper first date which is as romantic as it is charming… only to catch her sneaking out of his room at night. Her vague explanation doesn’t satisfy him, so John follows her back to her house where he meets the source of her secrecy: her antagonistic live-at-home 21-year old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Cyrus review”

Aidan Quinn leads actors into Exodus

If there’s anything I really like about covering indie films, it is that indie films are where you need to look if you want to keep pace with trends in original storytelling.

Picking up on where “Damages” left off in dealing with Ponzi scheme artists is screenwriter/producer R. Ellis Frazier who has assembled quite a cast for his feature directorial debut, The Exodus of Charlie Wright. Aidan Quinn will star, with Andy Garcia, Luke Goss, and Mario Van Peebles in supporting roles.

According to Jay A. Fernandez at The Hollywood Reporter, here’s the plot:

The story centers on Charlie (Quinn), a Los Angeles billionaire financial whiz who goes into self-imposed exile in Tijuana after his empire is revealed to have been a Ponzi scheme. While looking for the woman he abandoned there 25 years before, Charlie is pursued by a Mexican gangster (Garcia), a federal agent (Van Peebles) and thugs sent by a former client (Goss) looking to retrieve his money.

Whereas “Damages”—which I am still slogging through on DVR, so if you spoil it for me, I will gladly kill you—is very firmly empathetic towards Ponzi scheme victims, by having his protagonist be the schemer I’m wondering exactly just how Frazier will be able to make his story palatable enough for studio heads who may have lost money in Bernie Madoff’s scheme which was revealed in March 2009 and which victims included such Hollywood luminaries as Stephen Spielberg and his Wunderkinder Foundation, Dreamworks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg and Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick.

Perhaps the words “self-imposed exile” is key?