One of the things we’ve loved about living in Austin is access to some ‘smaller’ movies that don’t play all over the country. When the weather turns hot, we recharge by spending time inside dimly lit, air-conditioned theaters.
A few weeks ago at St Edward’s University we had the privilege of seeing Jumping Off Bridges followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers, past and present officials of the Texas Film Commission and a representative from the Mayor’s office, discussing film funding, This was an intimate movie focusing on four high school students, and their responses when tragedy visits the family of the main character. This movie was made in Austin by writer/director Kat Candler and features some wonderful performances by mostly unknown actors, although fans of television's LOST may recognize one of the parents. I hope we see Katie Lemon again soon – she is so young, but gives amazing presence and authenticity to her character. This movie isn’t light, but it does have humor and intelligence.
Austin’s Mayor Wynn jumped off the Pfluger Bridge to help get this movie made, local businesses helped feed cast and crew, and locations were made available by generous friends and even schools, because people here understand how important movie-making is to our city. As parents of four adult children, my husband Philo and I may not be experts, but we are experienced, and this movie felt like truth to us.
The second film is more comic in nature and it’s now enjoying limited release after playing film festivals. This combination road picture/relationship movie is called The Puffy Chair. Jay and Mark, the Duplass brothers, some-time-Austin residents, made the film on an incredibly small budget using many ways to keep costs down: one brother is the director and cameraman, the other stars and acts as producer, family members were talked into giving financial support and taking roles as actors, the homes of family & friends are used as sets, and the number of takes was kept short. The performances are a delight, and we want to see these people again. Rhett Wilkins is making a habit of playing quirky brothers, since he is the main character’s nature-boy brother in this movie, and the main character’s older brother in Jumping Off Bridges. There are parts of this movie that leave you limp from laughing.
The Duplass Brothers were present at our showing of the movie, and they are hilarious and articulate in person. Mark Duplass has an intense and expressive look, reminding me somehow of Martin Landau when he was very young. Back in 1959, Landau had to be the villain in North By Northwest, but Mark gets to be the lead in a world that better appreciates interesting faces.
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