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Sat August 23, 2008
Mumblecore to the core.
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
Baghead starts as if it has a bag over its head with a leaden set up about four not-so-young struggling actors planning a scriptwriting session in the woods. Not hard to tell what might happen in a comedy/thriller/horror indie. But amidst this sophomoric, satirical first reel is a gem of an interview with a director after a film festival screening. You'll know the drill when you see it: inane questions, uninspired answers, but everyone breathless with love of movies.
The invasion of a bagheaded villain creates the necessary horror tension nicely dispersed among the revelers rather than relegated mainly to the ladies. Although the idea of actors writing a horror script and living it out, and directors making fun of the genre is not new, the Duplass brothers create a believable environment that makes the odd occurrences believable themselves even amidst the obvious hokey horror clich?s.
It's easy enough to see Blair Witch influences, especially the "found" nature of the footage; its ultra-low budget, seemingly improvised script, jerky cameras, and little-known actors put it square within the "mumblecore" frame of reference (The Duplass brothers are prominent members of the movement). Baghead has more importance as part of that early twenty-first century movement than the film would attest on its own.
Be prepared to laugh a bit, scream a little, and wonder a whole lot at the dedication of talented filmmakers who could put bags over their heads for all the difference it would make to the general audience. They are the real pioneers of new cinema.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain?action=sectionIndex&sid=13 . Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com