Thursday, October 26, 2006

Greg the Bunny: Best of the Film Parodies

Remember Greg the Bunny from his Fox sitcom a few years back? He’s reemerged from hibernation and now appears in new short films on IFC, resulting in this new DVD compilation. This set is not to be confused with the previously released Fox series compilation; it is entirely new content.

For those of you who blinked and missed his foray into the mainstream on Fox, Greg is a lovable, dimwitted rabbit hand puppet who usually pals around with a rude ape puppet named Warren. Their Fox show presented the inventive concept that puppets were real people living and working amongst us, with Greg finding work on a children’s show where he interacted with a great cast including Seth Green, Eugene Levy, and Sarah Silverman. Of course “inventive concepts” rarely last long on network TV, so the show was promptly axed after half a season, seemingly signaling the end of the line for the fluffy bunny.

IFC resurrected the puppets this year for a series of short parodies of famous independent films. Each short lasts an average of ten minutes, so they have lots of ground to cover to hit their comedic targets. Greg is joined by Warren and fellow Fox-alum Count Blah, a blatant ripoff of the Count character from Sesame Street. A couple of other puppets are credited, but the primary three returning characters shoulder most of the workload. Greg got his start on IFC back in 1999, so it’s fitting that they have come full circle back to their first corporate home for this new series.

Viewers expecting something similar to the Fox show are in for a surprise, because the new shorts are very raw in both production and content. The original human cast is gone with the exception of a brief appearance by Seth Green, and the concept is no longer as rooted in reality. Their return to cable allows them to say and do whatever they want, leading to frequent foul-mouthed tirades from Warren and even a near-orgy with a couple of girls (real, not puppet) during their reenactment of Auto Focus. The creators seem like giddy children on summer break, letting the puppets drop the F-bomb with aplomb throughout the series while following them around with shaky handheld cameras. Unfortunately, this creative freedom doesn’t necessarily equate to brilliance or compelling entertainment, as the finished product is very much hit or miss depending on the movie subject. For an example of their comedic taste: the easy target of Pulp Fiction features Greg struggling in a zipped-up leather gimp outfit while Warren bickers about having to play Marsellus aka “the catcher”.

When it hits its mark, the show offers amusing send-ups of easily recognizable movies. Shorts in this plus column include parodies of 2001, Annie Hall, and The Godfather. The Annie Hall parody finds Greg in love with a real lobster as he obsesses over their relationship in inimitable Woody Allen fashion. In their version of 2001, Greg and Warren comically battle the evil red eye of Hal the computer, although they missed an opportunity to have Warren interact with the famous black monolith on Earth. Their Godfather parody follows the source material the closest, cramming the key plot points into a highly condensed, tightly scripted episode.

Their failures are usually the result of playing too loose with the original films, sometimes becoming so sidetracked on needless stream of consciousness rambling and improvisation that it’s hard to figure out which film is being lampooned. They expend quite a bit of time on material that would usually end up on the cutting room floor or solely in deleted scenes, such as the characters discussing their thoughts about any given scene rather than just performing the scene. This gives the impression that they’re just winging it at times rather than focusing on creating insightful content. Sophomoric, meandering humor has its place, but in this extremely compact format they really don’t have the luxury to mess around. The second half of the season holds together much better than the first, so it’s hopeful that they have worked out the kinks as they move on to a new season.

The DVD set has a generous supply of extras including commentary on all episodes, deleted scenes, gag reel footage, and two featurettes. Additionally, each episode has its own DVD title screen and custom introduction. None of the extras are essential material, but fans of the puppets are sure to appreciate the bountiful bonus content supplementing these occasionally amusing shorts. Check out a trailer of the series here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Writer/director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gained international acclaim a few years ago thanks to his previous film, Distant, a Grand Jury Prize winner at Cannes. His latest release, Climates, also notched an award win at Cannes this year, furthering his exposure of Turkish cinema to the world stage. Both films tread common ground, focusing on starkly different individuals trying to find a connection between each other that might not exist, although Climates centers on romance instead of the familial struggle portrayed in Distant.

Climates traces the deteriorating relationship between middle-aged professor Isa (played by Ceylan) and his noticeably younger TV producer girlfriend Bahar (Ceylan’s real-life wife, Ebru Ceylan). There’s not much in common between them, so when Isa suggests they end their relationship he meets little resistance from Bahar. This break leads both of them in new directions, with Isa reconnecting with an old flame while Bahar pursues her career far away from home.

Based on his actions, Isa is portrayed as an unlikeable, selfish character. He decides to leave his girlfriend for no discernible reason other than general ruminations about their age gap and resulting lack of compatibility. He stalks an ex-girlfriend and forces himself on her while concurrently making her eat a nut he dropped on the floor, a questionable scene that gains him no points in his treatment of women. Finally, he stalks Bahar and tries to worm his way back into her life, an act of desperation so laughable that it’s painful to watch. Isa seemingly wants what he doesn’t have until he possesses it, then he doesn’t want it anymore. He shows no capacity for true love or dedication, so why would Bahar want anything to do with him?

As for Bahar, she’s given little to do other than stare off into space with a melancholy look on her face, with occasional teary jags that alternately make her appear either sad or possibly deranged. There’s no indication of how she met Isa, why she was ever attracted to him, or why she’s prone to emotional outbursts. Viewers can infer that her unhappiness is entirely the result of her relationship with Isa, making it even harder to understand why she would entertain the idea of reconnecting with him.

As Isa, Ceylan contributes a powerful, effortless performance. Even though he plays an unsavory character, there’s an intelligence at play in his eyes that makes him magnetic on screen. He speaks volumes without words, using subtle expressions to convey his emotions and provide an anchor to the film. His wife doesn’t impress nearly as much, but this appears to be more the fault of her limited role than her inherent ability. Other supporting actors pop in for minimal screen time, but the majority of the film rests firmly on the performances of the Ceylans.

Ceylan seems to be far more interested in setting a mood than delivering a powerful story, keeping the scripted lines to a bare minimum and relying on the expressions of his actors and himself to carry the narrative. It’s difficult to discern the true nature of his characters as there’s no backstory or definitive conclusion, just scenes following the aftermath of their breakup. This lack of character development is certain to find fans ready to welcome his minimalist style that relies on viewers to connect the dots, as well as detractors in search of decidedly more substance.

The film was shot throughout Turkey, from metropolitan Istanbul to the sun-drenched Aegean seaside town of Kas to the bitter eastern winter of Dogubayazit, giving viewers a breathtaking glimpse of Turkey’s natural beauty. Ceylan’s languorous shots allow viewers to bask in the varied climates of this largely unknown corner of the world, providing a compelling backdrop to the story. Surprisingly, the film was shot on hi-def video, but it’s clearly a case of video done right as it looks comparable to or better than film, with sharp detail and vibrant color. While the film’s languid pace might not appeal to everyone, the presentation and locations are superb.

Climates opens in limited release in NYC on October 27th, followed by LA on November 10th before expanding to other markets. Check the film’s website for additional locations and DVD release information.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Solo Con Tu Pareja

A 15-year-old Mexican sex comedy might not seem like a prime candidate for release on the prestigious Criterion label, but Solo Con Tu Pareja gets the nod primarily due to its status as Alfonso Cuaron’s first feature-length movie. The film was a huge hit in 1991 in its native Mexico and led to Cuaron’s successful career alternating between high-profile projects in both the US and Mexico, most recently with this year’s Children of Men. Cuaron has proven to be an immensely talented director and writer, so Criterion deserves praise for finally giving US viewers the opportunity to discover his first movie.

While the broad term “sex comedy” implies mindless jiggle, obscene gags, and stereotypical characters, Cuaron’s film has significant substance and avoids clichés. It follows the escapades of a carefree playboy with the amusing name of Tomas Tomas as he blithely leaps from bed to bed until he’s hit with the double whammy of true love and shocking medical news. After a brief introductory set-up, the film hits its stride when Tomas starts farcical dates with two different girls at nearly the same time, juggling them between two nearby apartments while he travels back and forth via a narrow outside ledge. During one of these apartment transitions, he spots the girl of his dreams through the window of the apartment in between, finding himself instantly smitten in spite of her relationship with a dashing airline pilot. That’s just the kind of guy he is; he already has two girls in bed and he’s still on the prowl.

Although Tomas succeeds in deceiving both of his conquests during their dates, one of them later learns about the other, sending her into a fit of rage that culminates in her falsifying his medical records with a positive result on a test of a playboy’s worst fear: AIDS. Concurrently, Tomas swears off all other women to focus on romancing the beautiful neighbor girl, discovering a new sense of maturity and possibly true love for the first time. When he learns the results of his medical tests, he resolves to commit suicide but still finds compassion in his heart to try to protect his neighbor from learning of her pilot boyfriend’s infidelity. This helps to bring them together and leads to a shot at mature, true love for both of them.

In spite of its age, the film doesn’t seem dated except for its use of AIDS as a bogeyman. It’s odd how AIDS has lost its scare power over the years, but the film reminds viewers of how devastating it was to the cultural psyche of the time, especially with comedic yet insightful throwaway lines like Tomas’s insistence that “you can’t catch it over a phone line”. Here it’s used as a sobering wake-up call that the protagonist finally has to grow up and get serious about life, assisting in his rebirth as a dedicated monogamist.

Rather than reinforce the stereotype of a smarmy Latin lothario, Cuaron defies expectations by giving his lead substantial depth as an extremely average man with a stable, unspectacular career. Tomas is not particularly attractive, muscular or rich, but he still manages to use his charm to land dates with ease. He’s so immature that his idea of a good time is a daily morning streaking run to the bottom of his apartment building’s stairs and back. This focus on the common man allows viewers to more easily identify with the character and sympathize when his life changes.

Similarly, the love interests in the film aren’t mindless bimbos. One conquest is Tomas’s boss, an intelligent and demanding mature woman. Another is a nurse who plots her revenge but still cares enough for Tomas to come to his rescue. Finally, the principal object of his affection is a lovelorn young beauty who doesn’t fall for his charms but instead grows to love him through the genuine care he shows toward her.

This being a Criterion release, the DVD package is stacked with bonus content. Features include new interviews with the creators, early short films by both Cuaron and his brother Carlos, the original trailer, and a booklet with an essay about the film as well as an extensive biography of Tomas Tomas originally written to help the actor get fully immersed in the character. The presentation of the actual movie is superb, with rich, striking colors, digital restoration to remove dirt and scratches, and a new high-definition digital transfer from the original camera negative. Nothing less would be expected from the highly-regarded Criterion, and they uphold their meticulous standards yet again with this release.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Moongirl has a significant built-in curiosity factor due to the involvement of its creator, Henry Selick. As animation buffs know, Selick gained permanent fame as the director of the stop-motion classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as the less successful James and the Giant Peach and box office bomb Monkeybone. In recent years, he seemed to drop from sight except for his involvement in creating the animated sea creatures used in The Life Aquatic. Now he has resurfaced with a unique project combining an original DVD animated short with a lavishly illustrated children’s book.

Selick originally developed Moongirl as the animated short presented here, and the big surprise is that it’s entirely computer-generated, not stop-motion. He’s worked in CGI before, but he’ll always be most closely associated with stop-motion animation, so Selick fans might be thrown for a loop at first. The initial surprise quickly gives way to wonder as the story takes over, leading viewers on an enchanting tale.

The short recounts the story of a young country boy spending an idyllic evening fishing on his lake until the moon suddenly goes dark. He’s magically whisked away on a fantastic trip to the moon, where he meets a mysterious young girl and learns the secret of how the moon gets its light. Along the way, he battles an evil force with the help of his pet squirrel and learns that he has a greater role in life than he ever expected.

While the short tells the simple tale well, its presentation is underwhelming coming from such a noted creator. The CGI is passable, but there’s nothing special to set it apart from the works of any other competent animator. It seems like little more than a trial run of his production team’s abilities, although it has garnered a sizeable list of film festival awards. Selick has moved on from this to a full-length adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, so it’s hopeful that his team gained valuable insight during the short’s production. Luckily, the accompanying book makes up for the shortcomings of the film.

The illustrations for the book are handled by Peter Chan and Courtney Booker, who also worked on the original short. Rather than just taking screen captures from the film, the artists recreated key scenes from scratch for the book, an admirable decision that led to an elegant finished product with far longer potential shelf life than the film. Chan handled the drawing duties for the book, while Booker added the lush finishing touches as the digital colorist. The switch from animation to static imagery allows readers to linger over the fantastic images at their leisure, adding greater impact to the story. Selick’s writing works well in the children’s book format, assuring a pleasant bedtime story experience for young children and their parents. The plot of the book doesn’t impart any tangible life lessons, but it’s sweet and innocent fare that will let both children and parents sleep easy after story time.

As previously noted, Moongirl is a combination DVD and book, an intriguing package deal that results in the DVD gaining distribution through the publishing industry instead of languishing in a studio vault. At less than 10 minutes in length, the short likely had no other viable distribution method to the mass market, so Candlewick Press is to be commended for their innovative approach. The short may not be the greatest, but completists and fans of Selick now have an easy way to catch up with his latest animated work. However, the real prize of the package is the book, presented in a large hardcover edition that fits in well with the sizes of other children’s picture books. The book makes this package worth the purchase and is likely to be a treasured keepsake for many years to come.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars is a rollicking literary reinterpretation of the Alice in Wonderland universe sure to cast a spell on its targeted young adult audience as well as older readers. In this version, Alice is a magical princess who tumbles from Wonderland to our world, setting off a string of adventures in both realms.

Young Princess Alyss Heart witnesses a gruesome Wonderland palace coup by her evil Aunt Redd before being hustled to safety in our world by her family’s loyal and deadly bodyguard, Hatter Madigan. Unfortunately, their unstable transportation portal to our world results in Alyss ending up alone in England, while Madigan lands in France. Over the next dozen years, Alyss learns to forget about Wonderland and accept her adopted family while Madigan carries out a fruitless worldwide search for her. Meanwhile, Wonderland endures the tyrannical rule of Redd and assumes that Alyss is dead, with all residents losing hope except for a small band of rebels. Alyss recounts her Wonderland days to a local author who twists her stories into mere shadows of the truth and publishes them as bestselling Alice books under the pen name Lewis Carroll. The resulting unwelcome success of the books and her advancing age cause Alyss to repress her Wonderland memories and eventually believe that they were just a fantasy after all. Ultimately, the future of Wonderland hinges on Madigan’s ability to locate and convince Alyss to return to her rightful place as the savior of the kingdom.

This is the projected first chapter of a trilogy, but the arc presented here is a fully contained story that doesn’t leave viewers hanging at the end. While the initial setup is slightly protracted, the ensuing fast-paced action and interesting twists make this a real page-turner sure to keep many young readers and their parents up past their bedtimes. It’s especially interesting to see characters that we know from the books and Disney film in completely different, darker permutations. The Mad Hatter is a brutal bodyguard, the Cheshire Cat is a huge and vicious henchman for the evil self-appointed Queen Redd, and even the playing card soldiers are chilling robotic constructs that pose a serious threat.

Author Frank Beddor has designs for turning this into a feature length film, and it most assuredly would rate a PG-13 if mirroring the source material. It’s not exactly scary, but readers fearing a sappy fantasy foray filled with unicorns and rainbows should rest assured that this hews much closer to the darker Harry Potter adventures. That undercurrent of danger as well as its strong characterization and thrilling plot all contribute to make this a pleasantly surprising and accomplished work.

Beddor envisions this as a multi-faceted property and has already co-authored the ancillary comic book mini series Hatter M in addition to production of a soundtrack and online card game. He’s currently working on completion of the second volume of the trilogy as well as the movie script; check the Looking Glass Wars' website for additional news.

So Much So Fast

What would you do if you found out you only had a few years left to live? Would you retreat into a shell? Or would you live your remaining life to the fullest? That’s the dilemma faced by Stephen Haywood when he’s diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of 29. So Much So Fast chronicles his life from the early stages of the disease through its devastating impact over the intervening years, documenting his physical deterioration but also mental determination in the face of an almost certain death sentence. It’s a gripping, heartbreaking documentary that reaffirms the precious value of life in the face of adversity while concurrently condemning our profit-driven medical system.

Instead of shutting himself off from society, Stephen resolves to cling to a normal existence, quickly finding a wife and fathering a son while busying himself with two back-to-back home reconstruction projects. His actions might strike some as selfish, as he knows that in all likelihood he will be leaving his wife and young child shortly into their lives together, but when put into perspective of his tight-knit extended family it’s clear that he’s acting out of love and not self-serving interests. Stephen maintains a positive attitude throughout his tribulations, making him an extremely likeable subject while also deepening our grief over his impending fate.

The disease wreaks havoc on his family, especially his older brother, Jamie, who attempts to find a cure in time to save Stephen. In spite of his complete lack of any medical background, Jamie’s passion leads him to abandon his own career to establish a small research foundation that gradually grows into a multimillion-dollar organization, the largest ALS research facility in the world. The lab eventually creates a streamlined process to test a variety of potential ALS drugs in mice on a large scale in the hopes of finding a miracle cure before Stephen’s time runs out, completely circumventing the traditional lengthy medical testing model. As explained in the film, the medical community doesn’t devote much effort to finding an ALS cure because the big pharmaceutical companies don’t see any profit potential due to the small population of victims. Jamie is faced with extremely long odds, but his love for his brother gives him the determination he needs to search for a cure by any means necessary. His personal life begins to suffer as his obsession takes first place above his wife and career, turning him into a tragic figure along with his brother.

The documentary was filmed by Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, previous Oscar nominees for Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern, and they have a strong shot to return next year. Jordan’s own mother was a victim of ALS, giving them added personal interest in capturing the Haywood story. They followed Stephen’s family over the course of nearly five years, capturing Stephen’s horrible deterioration from a fairly active young man to a virtual vegetable wholly reliant on machines to move, breath, and communicate. The one constant throughout is the deep love he has for his family and vice versa, bridging all physical infirmities to maintain a strong family unit. Ascher and Jordan wisely keep a clear and solitary focus on the Haywood family, letting the story play out naturally without the use of any archival footage or personal diatribes against the drug companies. This is poignant material that doesn’t need any explanation, presented in such a way that viewers will have no trouble drawing their own conclusions about the drastic shortcomings of our medical system. It’s astounding that they started this film with no clear indication of where or when it would end, and astonishing that the final results are so overwhelmingly powerful.

So Much So Fast is currently screening in limited release around the country, check the film’s website for locations and DVD release information.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Russian Dolls

In 2002, L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) introduced viewers to the character of French grad student, Xavier Rousseau (Romain Duris), as he attempted to find himself while studying abroad in Barcelona. Russian Dolls picks up Xavier’s story five years later as he enters his 30s and finds that he’s still as restless and ungrounded as ever. While Russian Dolls works fine as a stand-alone project, it gains greater depth with knowledge of the previous film.

As a student, Xavier ran away from responsibility. He left behind his family, girlfriend, and homeland to embark on a fresh adventure with no restrictions or expectations. He shared his liberating experience in Barcelona with a like-minded group of international students rooming in the same apartment, forging a bond that outlasted their school years. The end of the first film found him literally running away from conformist office employment to return to his freewheeling college lifestyle, proving that he wasn’t ready for any long-term commitment.

As Russian Dolls opens, we learn that Xavier has found some success as a hack screenwriter, although his heart isn’t really in it. He’s five years down the road but still drifting, especially in his relationships with women. Those relationships are the heart of the film, acting as a catalyst for his slow march toward maturity and commitment. Although he’s a fairly average man, he’s charming enough to rack up a long string of casual girlfriends in his quest for temporary satisfaction. They never stay in his life for long, and he doesn’t seem to mind as he has no problems finding new conquests. The only exception is his ex-girlfriend from the first film (Audrey Tautou), a woman who has remained a close friend in spite of their previous romantic relationship.

A chance wedding offers Xavier the opportunity to reconnect with all of his college roommates as they reassemble from throughout Europe for the event in St. Petersburg, Russia. Shockingly, the groom is the most obnoxious and unlikely of his former roommates, a boorish oaf who blossomed into a prince thanks to the love of his Russian bride. The clear implication is that if this guy could find true love and contentment, there’s something seriously wrong with Xavier and the rest of the former roommates if they can’t. Will Xavier ever find true love? Does he even want to, or is he content with his life as a player? The film equates his quest to Russian dolls, the toys that fit inside each other in progressively smaller versions, with each successive girlfriend acting as another outer shell in his search for the final prize at the end.

Writer/director Cedric Klapisch reassembled all of the principal international players from the first film and used locations in England, France and Russia, continuing the concept that this was truly a European production, not just a French film. Romain Duris carries the film squarely on his shoulders, but gets strong assists from his former roommates and girlfriends, especially the more recognizable Audrey Tautou (Amelie) and Cecile de France (High Tension). It’s great to see the whole gang together again, although Tautou’s high-profile appearance bends credibility based on Xavier’s otherwise complete exclusion of past flames.

Klapisch likes to use occasional trick photography to add some pizzazz, most notably during a sequence where Tautou cagily describes her past romances to her young child. As she explains that she’s had seven “princes” during her lifetime (Xavier was the fourth), the bedroom transforms into a fairytale scene with her as the luminous princess. There’s also some comedy when Xavier starts spinning tall tales in job interviews to portray himself in a better light and multiple versions of himself appear in the background gaily playing instruments, showing that he’s the pied piper of b.s. The cinematic flair was present in the first film as well, and it’s usually put to interesting use but also brings to mind unwelcome comparisons to Amelie and its rampant image manipulation.

While L’Auberge Espagnole seemed unfocused and somewhat lacking purpose, paralleling the lives of its restless college subjects, Russian Dolls is a much more straightforward endeavor and the more rewarding of the two. Xavier and his friends have matured and become more complex characters, moving firmly into the realm of true adulthood. The first film showed Xavier running away from responsibility, while Russian Dolls finally finds him embracing it.

The DVD offers scant extras aside from a brief featurette, but thankfully offers one improvement over the DVD of the first film regarding consistency of subtitles. Although some of the characters speak in English at times, all lines are subbed in the viewer's choice of English or Spanish so there's never anything lost in translation.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jimmy and Judy

Jimmy and Judy uses the timeworn convention of a doomed couple on the run from the law, but injects some intriguing guerilla filmmaking to set it apart from its predecessors.

Jimmy is a bit of a nutcase who is obsessed with documenting every moment of his life with his trusty video camera. Judy is a sweet but impressionable girl from his neighborhood who falls in love with him due to his recklessness and devotion to her. Together, they’re bound for trouble but unable to avoid their inevitable fate.

Instead of using traditional camera setups, the filmmakers armed their stars with a single videocamera and put the production in their hands. Everything we see on screen is just as Jimmy and Judy see it, camera shakes included, so if you had motion sickness during The Blair Witch Project, get ready for another bumpy ride here. Although the concept runs the risk of coming off as a pretentious gimmick, it plays out very well here and lends itself to the intimate subject matter.

Edward Furlong plays Jimmy, and the first thing likely to strike viewers is that it’s been a loooong time since Terminator 2. Although he’s a tad doughy and disheveled now, his acting skills are in fine shape and put to good use here. Furlong has had a rough ride through his own legal troubles, so he brings a strong sense of realism to the unbalanced character of Jimmy. He’s the unbridled id of the film, a passionate outsider doing whatever he wants with no regard for social propriety. While he usually lives at home with his parents, he’s had a history of stints in mental institutions and always seems on the verge of being sent back. His video camera captures his life, but also keeps him at arm’s length from everyone else, acting as both a security blanket and a barrier to any intimacy until he finds a soulmate willing to embrace his odd obsession.

Judy is played by Rachael Bella, a relative unknown with a sizeable list of small film and tv roles. Like Furlong, she’s been in the acting game since childhood, a common past that allowed them to form an easy rapport. Interestingly, Furlong and Bella got married after this production and recently had their first child, so their budding relationship captured here has at least some basis in reality. As Judy, Bella is not given much to do aside from react to Jimmy’s antics, but those reactions are frequently surprising. For example, when Jimmy dishes out some extreme payback to students who disrespected her, then presents his video recap to her, she gushes about how it’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her rather than calling him a psycho and immediately distancing herself from him. While she may appear fairly normal on the surface, it’s clear that she has a cracked streak running through her that makes her ripe for their eventual destructive life on the lam.

As their relationship grows, they spend most of their time together until one fateful evening when a tragedy sets off a domino effect of trouble for them. They are forced to run away from home and eventually find sanctuary in a hippie commune headed by a crazed leader played by William Sadler. At this point, the film takes on a definite Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now vibe as they search for the lawless commune, immerse themselves in its counterculture, and ultimately face off against its insane, Kurtz-like chief. Sadler oozes danger in his brief appearance, distancing himself completely from his most famous role as the principled sheriff on TV’s Roswell. Aside from this short and unexpected sidetrip, the film largely follows the standard formula of a hopeless couple of outlaws on the run seen in everything from Bonnie and Clyde to Wisdom to Natural Born Killers. Each move they make seems to bring them closer to each other and take them further away from redemption, leaving them with nothing but each other at the end.

Jimmy and Judy is currently in limited release in select markets throughout the country, visit the film’s website for additional details.