Monday, February 2, 2009

Jason previews Cinequest: Capers

Okay, I just saw a screener of what's sure to be a comedy hit at Cinequest. Julian M. Kheel has made his feature debut a sparkling gem worth stealing. Three gangs of crooks all try to break into a pawn shop safe in their own specific genre. And by genre, I mean competing movie genres. Capers is framed by the feisty pawn shop owner Connie (Phyllis Somerville). She bitches about how her Brooklyn neighborhood has gone downhill since her family (the Italians) were in charge. Now instead of organized crime, they have nothing but a bunch of idiots. First there's "The Amateurs" (Danny Masterson and Michael Cecchi), shot as a 70's grindhouse flick, complete with film scratches and pops (yeah, I know it was done in Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse, but it still works). They're so dumb they'll spout off stuff like "You need an Oriental to do a job--for computer stuff and martial arts!" Then there's "The Moolies", led by Ronald (played by Leon). They're the black gang, and shot like an MTV rap video (complete with a boom box they carry everywhere for background music). But the best part of their gang is Emily (Mackenzie Milone), an 8 year old white girl they took as payment and then grew attached to. And lucky for them, Emily's got game. And finally, there's "The Sputniks", (Aysan Çelik and Jonathan Hova), Arab Chechnyans living in New York and looking for citizenship so that she can sing on Broadway (she's a painfully awful singer) and he can work tech support (he's no better). They're shot as a depressing, pretentious Eastern European/Russian art film, complete with black and white (which makes it a bit weird when their world collides with other worlds). The format actually allows for an ingenious mix of lowbrow and highbrow humor. The lowbrow comes from the absolute stupidity of all three gangs. The highbrow comes from the mixing of genres and the clever transitions. Basically it's some very smart people making a movie about some very dumb people, and it's all a lot of fun. Oh yeah, and there's a cameo by Cinequest Emerging Maverick award winner Blanchard Ryan as a sexy FBI agent who gets to do a little lesbian titillation with her partner, Dominique Swain. Awesome!
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