Steve Zissis and Jennifer Lafleur in Mark and Jay Duplass’ Do-Deca-Pentathlon

Last night was another robust one at the Los Angeles Film Festival site at LA Live. The big tickets events were the Summer Showcase of Searching for Sugar Man and the Gala screening of Brave. The festival also hosted a special screening of The Do-Deca-Pentathlon for Film Independent members (of which I am one) and select press (the official capacity of which I was attending the screening). The latest film from the Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Cyrus, Jeff Who Lives at Home) is another examination of charming and quirky underdogs accomplishing great and unexpected things. The film was a return to micro-budget filmmaking, and found Mark and Jay returning to working solely with a group of underappreciated and underused actors, including regulars in their films Steve Zissis and Jennifer Lafleur. The Duplass brothers excel in shining a light on universal themes manifested in eccentric characters, and in The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, their perspectives on humanity and filmmaking prove to be a true delight.

I also saw the festival’s final showing of the Malaysian film Bunohan: Return to Murder from director Dain Said. The film mixes a family drama of Shakespearean proportions with a martial arts crime thriller and the director’s style of visual poetry. Although the blend of genres and sensibilities on display is disorienting at times, the end result is deeply satisfying. In addition to telling a compelling story, Said also uses his storytelling and his visual work to show the audience Malaysia in a light that is equally tragic and beautiful. One of the most satisfying aspects of a film festival is getting taken on a tour of the full scope of the globe as well as human condition as you spend the day running from theater to theater. Bunohan: Return to Murder is a shining embodiment of that experience.

Looking forward to what’s on offer this afternoon and evening, the only film showing in the afternoon is Searching for Sugar Man at 5:30 pm. As this is still my pick for best film of the festival, anyone who missed it last night or has an inkling to should go see it. Speaking of festival favorites, after you see the best documentary of the fest, go see the festival’s last showing of Breakfast with Curtis at 8:10 pm, which is still the best narrative film of the festival. Check out the capsule reviews I wrote of both films before the festival kicked off last week. Although there are several promising choices in the late evening slot, I’ll probably opt for the Thai drama P-047.

I’m also ecstatic to report that I’ll be breaking away from the festival during the early evening. I’ve been flying high on Searching for Sugar Man the last several weeks, and the music of Rodriguez has been playing exclusively in my car as I drive to all these screenings, interviews, and festival happenings. Rodriguez himself is playing at the Hotel Café tonight at 7 pm, with tickets on sale for $10.00 a pop at www.hotelcafe.com. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the profound, prolific, and poetic songwriter play his remarkable songs live. I would highly recommend shuffling over for Rodriguez’s set tonight. If the man’s legend, music, and Searching for Sugar Man all endure as well and as deeply as they portend to, Rodriguez’s set could be one for the ages, and an experience we’ll be telling our grandkids about.

5 Responses to “LAFF Day 7: The Duplass Brothers Strike Again”

  1. Funny you should mention the Duplass brothers, Craig, as I just gone home after seeing “Your Sister’s Sister,” starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. I found it to be basically well-done and enjoyable, with a good script, well-matched casting and good performances. Director Lynne Shelton was present to chat about the film. She mentioned that DeWitt was a last-minute replacement for Rachel Weiss. Nothing against Weiss, but I thought DeWitt to be a more fortunate choice here.

    Although it’s difficult to single out any of the 3 central performances, Duplass in particular was good.

    The film does have a few flaws, but overall it’s a nicely done, mature film about relationships that nonetheless is enjoyable and charming.

  2. This is high on my list of things to see. I hope to check it out as soon as the festival is history. Consider me a fan of the Duplass bros as both actors and filmmakers, whether it’s one of their super low budget efforts or something more mainstream like Jeff Who Lives at Home.

  3. Craig – would you recommend Jeff Who LIves at HOme?

  4. I would and I do! http://livingincinema.com/2012/03/18/jeff-who-lives-at-home-2012/

  5. Pierre shouldeth payeth more attention!

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