By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall July 25, 2008 at 6:07AM
As Baghead opens in NYC today, just a quick post to wish Mark and Jay Duplass, Greta Gerwig, Ross Patridge and the whole team behind the film the best of luck with their big city opening weekend.
As Baghead opens in NYC today, just a quick post to wish Mark and Jay Duplass, Greta Gerwig, Ross Patridge and the whole team behind the film the best of luck with their big city opening weekend. The film has been open in Austin for a while now, but now that it has landed here, I am really excited to take the Mrs. to see it as it will probably be our last movie before the baby arrives on Monday (that's right, folks!).
Writing a movie is hard work!: The Baghead gang...
Listening to Ross, Mark and Greta today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show, I didn't realize that Mark and Ross had met at the 2005 Nantucket Film Festival, where I programmed The Puffy Chair and where Ross attended with Triggerstreet for a staged readering of the script 9/11 Kevin. That was the year Mark and his then-soon-to-be-Mrs. Kathryn taught me and my later-to-be-Mrs. how to play Big Buck Hunter, which was a game that revolutionized my relationship (ok, not really, but it was fun!) So, Mystelle Brabbée and I get points for using some Reese's Peanut Butter Cup magic, accidentally uniting two great tastes that taste great together! I didn't even know this was the case until Ross gave a shout out to Nantucket during the interview, so I learned something about MYSELF today... and isn't that the most important thing?
Here is my reaction after seeing the film at Sundance in January... Grab a ticket and support this terrific film this weekend!
Jay and Mark Duplass' genre-hopping romantic horror comedy Baghead is the story of four people, heart-sick Chad (Steve Zissis), studly Matt (Ross Partiridge), jilted Katherine (Elise Muller) and flirty Michelle (Greta Gerwig) who decide, after seeing a shitty independent film at a film festival screening, that they should make their own movie. On the spur of the moment, the team decides to head to a rustic cabin for the weekend in order to collaborate on their own script, and suddenly, something like Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy ensues; Attractions are declared and rejected, romantic intrigue abounds and plenty of alcohol is consumed. But when Michelle has a dream about a stalker with a paper bag covering his face, the plot quite literally thickens; The group decides that a horror film about a man with a bag head would make the perfect script and, before too long, all hell breaks loose.
Baghead is a complete blast, a meta-exploration of the creative process, genre and relationships that gets just about everything right. Most excitingly, the film's tonal shifts between comedy, romance, horror and drama all feel completely natural and earned, which is no small feat. The film's visual style, with Jay Duplass' signature zooms and pans between closeups, works wonders with these actors, all of whom turn in winning performances; Greta Gerwig's work here, shifting between flirtation, fear, anger and compassion, cements her status as a rising star, and Steve Zissis' winning performance as Chad is a riff on the lovable, put-upon mensch he played in the Duplass' terrific short The Intervention. The film's shifting tone really works in concert with the performances, and because the story and the acting are so light and nimble, the film never bogs down in any one style. I was excited to see that the film sold and will be receiving distribution; I think, with the proper marketing and a good run of festival dates, the film could be a real hit with younger audiences who are looking for new stories that take chances and deliver the fun. The film is a true independent and while it won't be for everyone, it is comforting to know that there are filmmakers like the Duplass Brothers out there making us laugh, giving us the willies, breaking our hearts and telling stories that can't be categorized in a single sound bite. Or can they?