September 1, 2008 by  

Baghead


Baghead

Steve Zissis and Greta Gerwig star in the independent thriller/comedy "Baghead."

Starring: Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig
Directed by: Mark and Jay Duplass (“The Puffy Chair”)
Written by: Mark and Jay Duplass (“The Puffy Chair”)

If you want to see a couple of independent filmmakers that are doing it right, look no further than New Orleans’ own Mark and Jay Duplass. Maybe they’re not as well known as other brotherly filmmaking tandems like the Coens, Farrellys or Wachowskies, but the Duplasses, with their new film “Baghead,” have wiggled their way in to play with the big boys and refuse to let something as trivial as a budget get in the way of creating interesting characters and impressive dialogue.

Label it “mumblecore” (term describing a low-budget film with an improvised script focusing on personal relationships and delivered by non-professional actors) if you want, “Baghead” is original and refreshingly geeky.

In “Baghead,” four actor friends, who can’t seem to get a break in the industry, decide the easiest way to star in a film is if they make it themselves. To focus on writing their screenplay, Matt (Ross Partridge), Chad (Steve Zissis), Michelle (Greta Gerwig), and Catherine (Elise Muller), set off to spend the weekend in a secluded cabin in the woods so they can concentrate on nothing but the script.

Although they start with bagfuls of determination, everyone – except Matt – sort of forgets the real reason they went to the cabin in the first place. No one really has any good ideas about what to write their movie about, and teddy bearish Chad is more interested in flirting with Michelle, who he knows is way out of his league.

The dormant writing process get a bit more exciting for the fearsome foursome when Michelle swears she sees someone lurking outside the cabin with a paper bag over his head. Apparently, safety isn’t nearly as important to Matt, who is easily inspired by what Michelle has supposedly seen and decides to write a horror movie based on her vision. It doesn’t take long before eerie things begin to happen around the camp as friendships are tested, relationships stay unresolved, and filmmaking failures slowly get the best of everyone.

Highlighting the pretentiousness of amateur filmmakers, “Baghead” is a parody like no other. The Brothers Duplass are never afraid to poke fun of themselves and, in my opinion, the entire independent filmmaking industry, which has definitely been begging for an affective shake up from a couple of ordinary guys with clever ideas, a handheld video camera, and nothing to lose.

Grade: B+

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