Friday, January 25, 2008


2008 Sundance Film Festival
★ ★ ★
Mark and Jay Duplass are Sundance veterans, and I really like their 2005 entry, Puffy Chair. Baghead is more of the same, but instead of a road trip comedy, this one is based on a standard slasher pic situation—a group of fun-loving partiers in a cabin in the woods. Matt and Chad are best buddies who haven’t made it to square one in Hollywood. One night, after a double-date, they decide to head to Matt’s uncle’s cabin in Big Bear to write a movie, starring all of them. Having never undertaken such a task, their attention wanders more to partying, flirting and … Baghead.

While funny in parts, Baghead is really more of a drama, although the genre kept slipping away from my expectations. Opening with some very funny satirical comedy, it quickly morphs into a frustrated relationship movie, then a scary slasher feel, and finally to a rather straightforward drama. Maybe it was my expectations—that I kept wanting to see the humor and charm of Puffy Chair, and ended up being a little disappointed. The acting is fine, the directing fresh and spontaneous, but the script seemed to fall a little flat in parts.

The Duplass brothers are unpretentious filmmakers, and because of that, their movies are hard not to like. They feel very intimate and familiar. They seem to revel in their low-budget productions, rather than apologize for them. Both Puffy Chair and Baghead are the kind of movies you and I would make, only a lot better. And while Baghead wasn't one of my all-time favorites, I look forward to their next movie.

Sundance Moment: Mark and Jay Duplass are very accessible, articulate and funny. They come across as guys you’d love to make friends with. Jay talked about their film-making style—a few weeks of rehearsals, collaboration with the actors, freedom of movement with no blocking, spontaneity and chronological shooting to give the actors a better sense of the evolving drama.

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