About Me
My Photo
Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
View my complete profile

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Baghead - Review from an Extra

"Baghead - Review from an Extra" was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

You can't do this until next month, but last weekend we went to see Baghead, the latest indie film from Mark and Jay, the Duplass brothers, who work on a shoestring budget to turn their stories into films. This movie is premiering in Austin - even New York and Los Angeles have to wait!
Philo and I loved the 2005 Duplass feature, The Puffy Chair, so we'd have wanted to see the latest Duplass movie in any event, but we had a special reason to see Baghead on opening weekend - to find out if either Philo or I could be glimpsed in the final film.

Most of Baghead was filmed at a cabin in the woods near Bastrop, Texas, a town Southeast of Austin. Hilarious, scary and surprising things happen to the two men and two women who are attempting to finish a screenplay for a movie - while also making sure the movie will provide roles for themselves.
Before they leave for the cabin, the story starts at a film festival, and back in October of 2006, Philo and I were both extras for a scene of an audience watching one of the film festival entries in a theater. I was directed to a seat right behind the four main characters and Philo was on the aisle, so we're both visible on screen for a couple of seconds - the sleeve of my light green blouse gets a few more seconds as background!

Baghead is said to use a comedy form to combine a scary movie with a relationship movie. That's not a bad description, and I'll add that we both liked the characters and story. It's an 'R' movie, which means casual profanity, nudity, and some violence. (These things don't bother me but I'm not sure who's reading this blog and thought you should be warned.)

And it's an indie movie which means some jiggly hand-held camera moments - and also some wonderful closeups. That visual intimacy with the actors' faces is something that's always been essential to the film experience, but recent movies are so stuffed with special effects, explosions, iconic landscapes, distant vehicles and petty details of historical recreation that there seems to be little time for dwelling on the individual landscape of the human face, keeping the audience at a distance from the people in the movie, sometimes leaving an unsatisfied feeling at film's end.

In contrast, the Duplass brothers let the camera linger on the faces of their four main characters, played by Greta Gerwig, Elise Muller, Steve Zissis and Ross Partridge and all of them were very watchable. We'd already seen Greta Gerwig when she starred with Mark Duplass in another indie movie called Hannah Takes the Stairs. Although I wasn't crazy about that movie it was interesting and I wanted to see the quirkily charming Greta Gerwig again - she's a naturally charismatic actor. Seeing Baghead let us know how amazing Steve Zissis can be - we hope to see him in more movies!

When the post about our experience as extras who'd been directed by the Duplass brothers went up in autumn of 2006, we didn't know whether we'd be in the movie - now I harbor delusions of grandeur and wonder whether a couple of seconds of screen time would qualify me for an entry on the IMDb. Could there be really be some filmmaker looking for a sixtyish, well-upholstered, grandmotherly type who sings songs to the trees?

"Baghead - Review from an Extra" was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.


  1. Can I have your autograph? Will you remember those of us who know you "when", once you are a big star?

    Great review, I wonder how long until this movie shows up in Indianapolis? I'll be watchting for your light green sleeve!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. What fun being able to see yourself on the big screen. I bet this movie won't even be shown here in our little town. I would like to have the opportunity to see you and Philo. If I would get the opportunity to see it I would be thinking green.

  3. How cool is that? I'll have to watch for the movie to show at one of our arthouse cinemas. Congrats to you & Philo ... don't let your fame go to your heads!

  4. I liked The Puffy Chair too and will look forward to seeing this one--and you!.

    To your readers who won't see this movie play in local theaters or show up at Blockbuster, remember that you can get anything on Netflix (and no, I'm not getting paid for this).

  5. I had no idea you were a movie star in real life. It's like your persona of a garden diva is cover for your secret identity as a famous celebrity. When did you get out of rehab?

  6. Just tell them, "We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!"

    (Congrats on your movie debut.)

  7. You're the garden Rock Star, Carol... I should be asking for your autograph!

    It was fun, Lisa at Greenbow - and we were glad our scene took place at the beginning of the movie - letting us get our 'debut' out of the way so we could concentrate on the movie!

    It's going to be interesting to see how the movie opens - definitely indie, but the Puffy Chair developed a real fanbase. If you get there Cindy, I hope you like it, too!

    Thanks for mentioning Netflix, Pam/Digging - they don't have every indie film but the Puffy Chair is on their list.

    Weeping Sore - the rehab will be orthopedic rather than for substance abuse... lifting all those bags of mulch and dragging that garden hose is wearing me out!

    Unfortunately MSS, the response to that call should be "I am big. It's the pictures that got small.", which will just crack my kids up.
    It's startling to think Gloria Swanson was around 52 when she made that movie.

    Thanks for the comments!


  8. What fun! Congratulations on your big screen debut Annie.

  9. Annie,
    I think you have a promising future in films ahead of you. Will you still be leaving comments on my blog when you're famous?

  10. Whoo hoo Annie, you and Philo are becoming quite the celeb, aren't you? ;-) What fun that both of you are in this movie. I like Indie movies as they usually are far more interesting than anything that comes out of Holywood. Not sure if Baghead will make it to my country but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will.

    Great review!

  11. Hi Annie,

    Somehow the Deplass brothers have flown under my indie radar, so thank you for piquing the interest. It's been interesting to see the number of brothers making films together (the Cohens, Michael and Mark Polish, the Wachowskis, et. al. What's up with that?

    If you're not familiar w/the Polish brothers, check out Twin Falls, Idaho and especially Northfork, my personal favorite (haven't seen The Astronaut Farmer yet).

    We still haven't seen The Fall yet, but it's high on the priority list ... may just pop over to Amazon and check that out. Sounds like a keeper for our collection.

  12. What fun! I'll have to go see this movie because I can say that I kinda-sorta-well, not really know someone in the movie!

    Are you doing autographs?

  13. How exciting! We have only one theatre nearby that shows indie movies; I'll have to watch their ads and see if this one comes to town. I'll be looking for your green sleeve!

  14. So, what was it like waiting and sitting and just being part of that experience? You are a 'star' already to those of us who read your blog and receive your always eloquent and thoughtful comments. Must have been a kick though to see yourself on the big screen!

  15. Now that was fun to read. I had no idea that you lead a double life. Maybe, just maybe the movie will make it to our film theatre which shows this kind of movie. Good review!

  16. Way to go, Annie! I'll have to put that movie on my list to check out.

  17. Hi Garden Girl - thank you very much!

    Chigiy - unless you plan on changing your style from hilarious and provocative to boring, you can bet I'll be at your blog!

    No one who didn't already know us would even notice, Yolanda Elizabet, but it was fun. I hope you find some good ones this summer!

    That's so true, IVG - all those brothers do work well together!
    We've seen Twin Falls and Northforkand enjoyed the very quirky Astronaut Farmer, but I bailed on Jackpot.

    I'm glad we got to see The Fall on the big screen - the visuals are amazing and they're actual locations rather than computer generations.

    Since I met Carol at Spring Fling, doesn't that mean we have only two degrees of separation, Sherry? Sorta kinda!

    That would be cool if it comes to your town, Prairie Rose - and there's always the chance the movie will be on DVD.

    Layanee, other people who answered calls to be extras had warned us that you're seldom visible in the final product. So when we signed up we just hoped for a little look at the process and the small scale of this movie made us feel as if we were part of it.
    Friends who spent hours in the sun and wind for crowd scenes in sports movies had very different experiences!

    This was just luck, Kate smudges - a lot of extra notices give age 50 as the upper limit. Once was fun, but not likely to happen again.

    It sure did make us feel more "Austin", Vertie - have you ever been an extra?

    Thanks for the comments,



A comment from you is like chocolate - maybe I could live without it, but life is more fun with it. I'll try to answer. If someone else's comment piques your interest, please feel free to talk among yourselves.