Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Word About...

Written and Directed by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass

The Duplass Brothers are popular in the independent film community for their numerous hysterical short films, and their first feature film, The Puffy Chair, which was a charming, hilarious, and sincere feature debut. For their second feature, Baghead, they stay within their niche: simple, yearning characters who deal with regular everyday problems, but for them they just happen to be hilarious. Baghead takes a bit of a spin on it, though, and tumbles for moments into the horror movie genre, but what makes this film special is the characterization and smart dialogue.

The film is about four struggling actors who decide that they should spend a week in the woods and write their own screenplay. There's Matt (Ross Partridge), the good-looking leader of the group. Catherine (Elise Muller), who is Matt's ex, but still has more than a few feelings for him. Matt's best friend, Chad (Steve Zissis), who is the chubby, loveable guy. And then there's Michelle (Greta Gerwig), the gullible, youthful girl who catches Chad's eye, but wants to go to bed with Matt.

They go out to the cabin, but their screenwriting process is usually interrupted by congradulatory booze runs. The idea comes to them when Michelle dreams that she was attacked by a man with a bag in her head. Matt takes the idea, and decides to make it the plot of the film: a group of people in the woods being attacked by a man with a bag over his head. When an actual baghead-ed man starts appearing around the house, though, these group of 20-somethings have to figure how to escape the wilderness, and how to survive each other's volatile personalities.

The best parts about Baghead are not the ones that deal with suspense, though its dealt with pretty competently. The most endearing moments throughout the film are the interactions between the interesting characters. They are altogether funny, disturbed, insecure, and compelling, and much like The Puffy Chair, the Duplass Brothers unveil them so precisely, and so perceptively, it makes the film as delightful as possible. The film is shot on a hand-held camera mostly, and looks to have been made on a bargain-basement budget, which lends to the atmosperic tone, but this film is not cheap, it pays through its own authenticity.

This film was released sparingly at theaters throughout the beginning of September, but is no longer playing. It should be released on DVD soon.


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