Saturday, January 23, 2016
Directed By: Rick Alverson
Written By: Rick Alverson, Tim Heidecker & Gregg Turkington
Cinematography By: Lorenzo Hagerman
Editor: Rick Alverson & Michael Taylor
Cast: Gregg Turkington, John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, Amy Seimetz, Michael Cera, Timn Heidecker, Dean Stockwell, Tonantzin Carmello
En route to meet his estranged daughter and attempting to revive his dwindling career, a broken, middle-aged comedian plays a string of dead-end shows in the Mojave desert.
It seems another film that Rick Alverson has directed that seems aimed at being comedic anti-comedy.
This seems more a film to meditate on. It really wants you to think it through. While watching and experiencing it.
Where at first the film seems random. As it seems focused on showing life on the road for a traveling stand-up comedian. Along the way we see the banalities of that life. Being underpaid, constantly trying to find someone or somewhere to stay. Trying to keep yourself entertained and Fill your days. Along with the strange people you encounter and even when he visits with family. The encouragement but also back handed compliments about what it his game plan and building towards.
This film offers a no frills look at the profession as well as a more sad yet sobering look. Where there are no highs at all. Just more and
more mundane activity.
Every time you think the film is going somewhere or in a different more focused direction. It goes back to being abstract and random. That at first gets frustrating, but soon you find yourself going along with it. You keep waiting for it to get started or really go somewhere. Something to happen to change or give the film direction and it never does. It's like a film full of anecdotes, that only have a deeper meaning to the storyteller and he refuses to reflect on them at all. So you can either investigate or stay lost.
One interesting aspect is that the lead character is a stand-up but more or less uses a personae when he does his act. Who seems to be an older experienced comedian who seems to intentionally tell offensive and bad jokes. That seem more meant to shock and challenge or antagonize the audience. We see their various reactions. Yet it doesn't seem to make him happy or really even entertain him. So that it doesn't seem like a performance or something to entertain him.
So you are left to wonder why he punishes himself. As the only continuing motif other then his stand-up shows are his constant calls to his daughter where he leaves messages. Which even though he doesn't say much. Seems to be the only time he reacts or let's what is on his mind out. Sort of a confessional of sorts.
I will say that this film is definitely not for everybody. I am still trying to figure out if I really liked it. As it seems more experimental. This is a film that leaves itself open to interpretation and can be read into depending on how you see it.
It's a brave film that falls in line with Alverson's previous film THE COMEDY. Only here he goes more remote. As he sees to be a filmmaker who subtly tries like the central character to challenge the audience. As his films seem more cerebral and make you think. Not cookie Cutter, but then again could be filling is all and really should be taken as a lark and written off as simple.
Though really as always it is up to the audience to decide.