Monday, February 18, 2013

Film Review: Daniel Schechter's Supporting Characters

I must admit that I was not expecting to like Supporting Characters all that much.  Hovering perhaps just a foot or two this side of the Mumblecore demarcation line - even starring Mumblecore stalwart Alex Karpovsky - Daniel Schechter's bromance-cum-old school conversational comedy, a la Woody Allen and/or Albert Brooks, perhaps even Paul Mazursky, caught this critic way off guard.  Granted, it may not be the greatest film since that proverbial sliced bread, but what it is, is a smartly written, wryly acted comedy, that pulls no punches and plays out as a witty and articulate indie film - something not often seen in this day and age of creatures such as the offensively over-rated Bridesmaids and the just plain offensiveness of things like Jack and Jill and whatever other dick-joke-and-fart-filled Adam Sandler thing that came out recently.  Something not often seen indeed.

Starring the aforementioned Mr. Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe, as a pair of film editors working on what appears to be a low budget New York-based film (the budget of this film came in at right around the whoppingly low figure of fifty grand), Supporting Characters is both a quaint look at the film industry, albeit inside the realms of the off-off-off Hollywood kind, but real enough to even be peppered with insider-speak just to make it all the more cinema-geeky for those of us who love such things, and a somewhat biting, but never cliché, take on love and friendships.  Shot on digital video, which gives it more a TV feel than a movie feel (yeah, yeah, I know, TV is great these days, and more than able to compete with cinema, but it is still different - for now), the film is purposefully small - in both stature and storytelling - and this is what gives it its offbeat charm.  A big budget version, with maybe Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, would of course, never work, but as a small film like this, it is pulled off with a realistic, humanity that would be lacking in most (but not all, mind you) Hollywood vehicles.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the artificiality of cinema more than most people, and the fantastical dialogue in the films of directors such as Tarantino or De Palma or Martin Scorsese - all more cinematic pretension and art-for-art's sake beauty than how anyone really talks - but reality-for reality's-sake can be a refreshing turn of events at times, and the conversations in this film, between Karpovsky and Lowe, come off as real conversations, as if these two men are really truly friends and are actually having real conversations about real life, sometimes in a realistic passive-aggressive manner, that Schechter's camera just happens to catch on, on digital video.  Never trying to go into realms the writer/director (and the screenplay is co-written with second lead, Lowe) may not know, or that may be over his artistic head - i.e. the aforementioned artificiality of Tarantino, De Palma and Scorsese - Supporting Characters comes off as a quirky, but not quirky in that annoying Little Miss Sunshine-y way, little indie film about two friends and the trials and tribulations of working in, and working around the foibles and egos of actors and directors and such, the film industry.  Now, with word, true or not, that Schechter is at work on Quentin Tarantino's supposed Jackie Brown prequel (at work as what, I am not sure, unless he is helming the project and QT is merely a producer), we may just get to see what he can do with something unlike he has ever worked on before.

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