27 March 2002 | DannyBoy-17
A nifty game, well played out
The Oscar nominated shorts program ended this week at Visions DC, seemingly more interesting in light of the fact that the winners had already been named. So you got to judge for yourself whether the committee was right or not: the irony with the shorts, docs, and most of the foreign stuff is it seems to take a win to get the film into theaters in the first place, whereas it's the other way around with features.
While the Accountant, Roy McKinnon's story of a scheme to pay the debt on family farm, won best picture with some cool Coen bros. aesthetics, one liners, and an overall good zany sense of fun, somehow Kalman Apple's flick feels just niftier, fresher. You don't know until the very end exactly what's going on, and I won't spoil it.
We open on what seems like three people who are either desperate actors or have gone completely insane who are involved in a kind of a Chekhovian drama. Their stage is the NYC Bus system, any bus, anywhere.
A widow (played by a striking actress who deserves naming) is summoned by her husband's business partner, Philip (Tuthill), to pay a loan that her husband, Nikolai, left. He's under pressure to pay it immediately, but she's been left with nothing. So it turns into a "Sexy Beast" kind of terrorization of her and her humble butler, as Philip refuses to leave her "four walls" until she pays him money she hasn't got.
As tensions rise, bus passengers get nervous, and drivers start throwing them out the door. The three just get on the next bus, and get right back into the argumentit all starts back up again. Finally, Philip challenges her to a pistol duel...inside the bus.
The buses are well used and played for comic effect, but also there's genuine chemistry between the two leads here. And a funny combination of a kind of NY story and 19th-century drama. This guy's got a bright future, and it certainly pays tribute to the ways that theater can really be brought to funny, terrifying life in the everyday world.