Director/screenwriter/producer/star Tommy Wiseau is very proud of his movie The Room, a drama formed around a love triangle that has taken on an impressive cult status.
The film premiered in mid-2003 and left an impact on moviegoing communities. The film is baffling and has a confusing aura to it all…but it keeps drawing people in. People who are willing to bring their unbeknownst friends because “they just have to see it”.
Because of these repeat viewings and this bizarre excitement it’s aroused, The Room has been popular during midnight screenings where patrons are encouraged to interact with the film. Some of these interactions include throwing spoons at the screen, reciting memorable lines, and playing catch with a football between you and your moviegoing buddy. Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense.
Wiseau’s passion project marks its 10th anniversary this year – which is quite a feat. For the anniversary, Wiseau and actor Greg Sestero (who plays the role of Mark) came to Toronto to celebrate the long-running event.
I was very fortunate to sit down with both men and talk shop about The Room as well as other topics like Sestero’s upcoming book The Disaster Artist based on his experiences making the film, stage acting vs. acting in a film, and cinematic audience participation and whether we’ve gone too far or not.
Wiseau was vocal about how much he appreciates Toronto’s avid Room support and added that he loves Canada. When asked about the movie goers that call the film “so bad, it’s good” and “the worst movie ever made”, Wiseau explained that he doesn’t necessarily listen to that feedback. It’s a film where people can take whatever they want from it and those who have embraced it have had a blast watching Wiseau’s story unfold. “In the eighties, ‘bad’ really meant ‘good’. Like, if you’re ‘bad’, you’re ‘really good’,” Wiseau explained. I’m glad he’s keeping a bright attitude and that he’s sticking to his guns.
Listen to the interview below. The audio starts with Greg’s answer to my question, “Did you ever expect the film to pick up this much steam? Could you have predicted 10 years ago you’d be here?”:
Special thanks to GAT PR for organizing this interview.
Tommy Wiseau’s The Room will be playing a special engagement as part of the Love Is Blind Blu 2013 Tour at Toronto’s The Royal on May 24, 25, 26.
The quiet character study In The Name Of is driven by a superb performance by Andrzej Chyra. His character of Father Adam is mesmerizing to watch. Chyra handles the subtleties that lie within his role and Adams’ motives so carefully. His readings and lines are filled with sincerity, subdued frustration, and hurt, but Chyra is able to tell all of this with a single hopeful glance.
I really liked Malgorzata Szumowska’s film. I found that the themes of settling for a safe lifestyle were well stated and even though we so badly wish for Father Adam to find that ultimate plight of jubilation in his career and in his love life, we understand why he feels as if he feels he needs to keep his preferences hidden. It connects to his detailed back story, after all.
It’s by no means a bad movie, a decent movie, or a good movie. Szumowska has made a great movie that serves as an undeniable recommendation for a movie goer wishing to watch an interesting, struggle-filled character come full circle to the best of his capabilities.
However, I don’t think In The Name Of will stand the test of time like Andrzej Chyra’s performance will. It’s a film that feels very important and well told but doesn’t necessarily resonate as much as you want it to.
It’s because Szumowska’s drama is very slow. It allows events and character arcs to patiently play out and hopes the audience will have as much patience. A slow burn formatting is much appreciated, but In The Name Of feels a little too lethargic and brings attention to its slow pacing – something that shouldn’t be apparent in a slow burn type of movie.
The film is surprisingly profane as well. Father Adam oversees and accompanies a centre in Poland for teenage boys. There are extended sequences that feel heavily improvised and feel as if they’re almost giving the Dogme 95 cinema buffs something to chew on. These wandering segments are interesting at first, but are done in by a length that’s a little too long.
On top of the slight length issues is that aforementioned crassness. I understand Szumowska is wanting to portray this young commune as raw as he can, emphasizing the “boys will be boys” nature within all this tomfoolery. But, the language that’s spat out at others is so brash, it’ll make the saltiest of sailors cringe and make them wish the otherwise skilled writer/director had toned the language down.
When Chyra’s performance is soaring along with other actors like Mateusz Kosciukiewicz who plays Lukas – one of the rambunctious teens – in an equally phenomenal way, it’s hard not to wish the overall film had been as consistently capable as these high points. Of course, these key performances needed a talented director to tame them, so for that Szumowska gets multiple pats on the back.
Over time, I have no doubt Szumowska will polish the way he writes and the way he paces his movies. I’m not concerned at all for this filmmaker’s future. He’s shown a lot of promise. Hopefully, he’ll use this project as a stepping stone to further his career in storytelling and filmmaking.
Catch In The Name Of at:
Thursday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, June 2 at 5:00 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
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The truth Morgan White’s doc The Rep holds is sad, but true. That constant dreaming of wanting to have access to a vintage movie house that screens older films is always apparent among film buffs and equally eager film buffs disguised as business men are wanting to bring that once-in-a-lifetime experience to an audience. It’s unfortunate that the process of getting a rep cinema off the ground and turning it into a grand success with a consistent flow of customers hardly comes to fruition. But, in a world of VOD viewing, can we blame anyone for not wanting to take this chance more often?
White’s doc will be a tough watch for those who love movie going and love drinking in older culture through niche theatres and collective movie watching. It’s pretty much a documentary equivalent to subjecting Star Wars fans to 90-minutes of dismantling collectibles of the intergalactic cast. That’s not to say that The Rep is an ultimate downer though.
While White focuses on rep cinemas from all over the world including active cinemas like The Alamo Drafthouse and long lost theatres like Toronto’s 99 Cent Roxy, he lets Toronto’s Underground Cinema anchor his film and tell a true story about how three normal schmoes went about to chase a dream, catch it, and then suffer financial and marketing problems.
Alex Woodside, Charlie Lawton, and Nigel Agnew are all likeable guys. It’s hard not to welcome them when they’re THIS dedicated to their love for movies. In fact, they’re so dedicated that when disappointment occurs, it hits them hard. Not only on a business level, but also on a personal level as well.
There’s a hovering foreboding, sinking feeling vibe if you know the ending to this main story. However, it’s easy to be distracted and focus on the camaraderie these three have. They’re all hard driven in their own ways and like an intricate puzzle, these pieces have found their way to make an aspiration become a reality.
This is a story filled with hope and tragedy. When we see the cinema hit rough patches and see these three start to unravel, there’s an initial feeling of warped curiosity to see a peek behind the curtain. Talks, thoughts, and meetings are shown; ones that audience members would’ve never expected.
That said, this curiosity soon turns into a compulsory need to root for this team. We see just how hard they’re trying to meet audience needs, to social network, and to fix problematic situations before a drastic butterfly effect occurs. These blunders and frustrations are easy to sympathize with as we’ve all been in situations where no matter how hard we try, there’s an unstoppable force that creates hiccups. The Rep may seem like a movie lover’s dreamland doc but it turns out to be a very emotional movie.
Interviews with other rep cinema owners and filmmakers (such as Pink Flamingos’ John Waters and Clerks’ Kevin Smith) are spliced in between the story taking place at the Toronto Underground Cinema – most likely to switch things up by getting similar opinions to what the three from T.O. are facing even though these guests aren’t directly asked about the little-cinema-that-could.
The interviews are handled quite well and though they carry information that doesn’t sit well at first, these moments never feel cynical or pessimistic. These are thoughts by people who have come to terms with the quality change in the industry and how it affects them as people who either make or show movies. They’ve acknowledged the storm and now they’re headed in with as much of a positive attitude as they can muster. Morgan White’s guests are all optimistic enough to make us feel like everything will be O.K. It sucks, but it’ll be O.K.
The Rep belongs in a category entitled “watching the inevitable unfold” with other documentaries such as Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith’s ranting Overnight and Andy Deemer and Jason Foulke’s Poultrygeist making-of called Poultry in Motion: Truth is Stranger Than Chicken. I imagine the three from T.O. and White will take the latter as more of a heartfelt compliment.
The Rep may make you want to walk down the sidewalk kicking stones after the screening while Vince Guaraldi’s famous Peanuts ditty “Christmas Time Is Here” plays in your head, but you shouldn’t feel bummed out leaving the theatre. Act similarly to one of the strong people you’ve watched in this fascinating doc and act on those instincts of wanting to make a change within your community. As the doc reminds us, a movie goer’s interest and support is what these theatres and owners strive for. Turn that frown upside-down, drink in what White’s important doc is conveying, and put it to use.
Change the topic from the environment to movie going and you have a message that is as inspiring and valuable as Rob Stewart’s info in Revolution. Except with The Rep, these guys all keep their shirts on and wear pants.
There’s something ingenious about the idea of Michael Bay helming a project about celebrating a shallow American dream. Who better to direct a story about a team of musclebound knucklehead criminals chasing the implausible than a guy who almost always has explosions take the lead role and lets T&A share the second billing.
The film’s Miami setting takes on a “look good, feel better” attitude as all the characters are in some way self-obsessed. Everything and everybody is strictly based on face value and everyone seems ok with that. The film has to take on an arresting approach to really capture that hollowness and lack of human emotion and you almost have to admire Bay for taking such an ambitious swing. It’s a story that’s certainly out of his element.
But, as ambitious projects can sometimes be, Pain & Gain strikes out in the most irritating of ways.
Imagine you reading the true story of which Pain & Gain is based on in a newspaper. The film Pain & Gain is like having a bad dream about the news story you read that gradually turns more nightmarish over the span of two hours.
Bay’s stab at something new is loud, overblown, and revels in violence and sexual leeriness. This may sound like usual fare you’d expect from the boombastic director – which is a deal sealer to some readers – but, this is so much worse compared to previous works from Bay because Pain & Gain has an interesting “true story” and has the ingredients to make a memorable movie. Instead, it’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Here’s a tip for Michael Bay and his screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely: Just because the subjects of your movie are dimwitted and idiotic doesn’t give the film – or the filmmaker or the screenwriters – permission to act as dimwitted and idiotic.
Pain & Gain’s script is a frustrating endeavour to listen to and watch unfold. Just as the story earns a smidgen of interest from the audience, it throws a sex gag or constant profanities over top of what we find so compelling. It definitely doesn’t help that Bay (who also produced) indulges in the juvenility and highlights just how hilarious it is – or is supposed to be – in glaring close-ups; sometimes utilizing showboaty camera techniques.
It also appears that Michael Bay watched Man on Fire and Domino before directing this fiasco and barged onto the set thinking he could emulate what Tony Scott displayed in those balls-to-the-wall action flicks.
That’s a style that some to this day still argue about. Scott milked the freneticness in those movies and even I – who liked those movies – thinks the director barely got away with it. To have an inadequate and overly-confident director like Bay try and copy those visuals and that insane pace while he and his screenwriting buddies cackle away with a frat boy mentality makes Pain & Gain a very, very, very difficult watch. It’ll test your patience.
Pain & Gain’s “true story” is a crazy one and it needed a steady hand to balance the shocking content as well as give the film it’s own stand alone voice and unique vision. Bay, Markus, and McFeely could’ve had that steady hand, that original vision, and quick-witted voice but it appears they’re too busy pointing at homosexuals, gawking at boobs, and relentlessly screaming “balls”.
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for filmmaker Michel Gondry to wow you after his messy miscalculation known as The Green Hornet. In Gondry’s defence, The Green Hornet played as a film where its “it” star and successful producers had more creative control than its masterful director. Gondry’s visions work better when he’s given a fair bit of leeway and trust, and The Green Hornet didn’t allow this for the Oscar winner.
The We and the I is supposed to act as a progressive return to form for the director – and it is. The low budget high school flick is an offbeat hybrid of Kids and Dazed and Confused if Spike Lee served as a creative consultant.
The We and the I is more than fitting for Michel Gondry’s directorial style, writing, and creative mind. It features the best qualities from his more well known work that made him a standout, and he’s able to adapt those strengths in this story about a bus ride home after the last day of school.
The film and its cast have a communal feel which is similar to the movie loving community we watched in 2006′s Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and 2007′s Be Kind Rewind. The amateur actors – who all take on characters who have the same name as them – are likeable and are almost always yapping. Surprisingly, this non-stop jibber-jabber is endearing, honest and adds to the fly-on-the-wall nature of this slice of urban life in New York City. The film has the power to transport you back to when you were in high school eagerly listening – or contributing – to the rumour mill.
The actors may be likeable, but we feel by a few individuals; you’ll know who when you watch the movie. It’s easy to use the “they’re not professional actors” excuse, but that song can be played only so many times. Some students lack so much comfortability in front of the camera that one wonders why Gondry and his casting crew didn’t search for more natural actors who are equally authentic.
Gondry’s storytelling trickery that we saw in 2004′s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is also at play. Many stories are told on this long bus ride home. At one point, three of them overlap. Instead of using split screen techniques, Gondry blends in his settings. When a girl is explaining to her girlfriends about a late night hook-up in a car, the car is seamlessly integrated into another story taking place at a party. The camera pans over to the passenger side window and we’re seeing another wild memory take place. It’s a very cool effect and effectively displays how our ears can wander in and out of multiple stories we hear.
The flashbacks are shot on camera phones and more consumer-based cameras. Again, this adds to the fly-on-the-wall perspective but it also conveys that this is probably how other students would’ve seen this event take place if someone was shooting it. All that’s missing is a YouTube engine, but that would’ve been too much excessive product placement – though Blackberry can consider The We and the I as a subtle commercial for their sleek smartphones.
If you took away the smartphones and any mention of technology, The We and the I would be a product of the 90′s even more so with its older hip-hop soundtrack and the lack of heavy modern politically correctness. The kids are pervasively bullying, yet there’s no message that what their doing is considered tasteless. Upbeat music even plays over top of most of these gags. It’s not that Gondry and his team are insensitive. They just want to playfully show that this is what kids might do to amuse themselves amongst their friends. And I dare you not to laugh during a scene when a misplaced cigarette is spotted by the bus driver after the more intimidating bullies are caught smoking at the back of the bus.
It’s all in good fun and we find ourselves having a ball and drinking in the style the film takes on. Even then, the film wears thin as friends gradually get off the bus leading to the material getting more serious. The We and the I has the mentality of a really good party. It’s exciting and joyous when everyone is together and having a great time. But when the party starts to diminish, you soon have a scattered group of people who feel tired and burnt out. Audiences will feel the same.
While The We and the I may still be inferior to Gondry’s past work and music videos, it’s a confident sign that this filmmaker hasn’t lost his touch. It’s an exciting reminder mixed with touching nostalgia that runs a wee bit too long.
Horror movies usually guarantee fun at the movie theatre. Whether the quality of the movie is good or not, experiencing an eerie and tense film with a group of mostly strangers – who hopefully aren’t too gabby – is a riot. Everyone is witnessing the disturbing visuals and the scares for the first time making the overall vibe very exciting and relentlessly uneasy.
However, some horrors have a hard time making that jump to DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD because the in-theatre experience plays crucial. Some frightful flicks hold up tremendously – and even look better on your HD television – but not all scary movies can be so lucky.
With this webisode of Does It Float?, I wanted to see if that was the case with 2013′s Texas Chainsaw 3D. I absolutely dug it in theatres and really enjoyed how director John Luessenhop handled the popular franchise. But, I wanted to know if this love for the 3D film could carry over to the small screen on Blu-Ray in 2D. And, do the twists, the turns, and the unsettling sequences float on a second viewing?
Webisode two, coming right up!
To read my original review, click here!
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Set against a bluegrass backdrop, Ellis and his best friend Neckbone (both played exceptionally by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) scavenge through their surroundings to help a wayward, disheveled man named Mud find tools to rescue a tattered boat from out of a towering tree. As they travel back to the island where Mud (played by a striking Matthew McConaughey) roams and hides, the three work together to carry out this seemingly doubtful task.
This is just one of the many moments in Jeff Nichols’ Mud where it appears our three leads are living in a Neverland of sorts. Not worrying about distressed parents, heartbrokenness, or any of that other “real world” junk. Ellis and Neckbone are lost boys and a raggedy man named Mud is Peter Pan. Just imagine those ripped jeans as green leggings.
The plan the three are devising revolves around Mud’s lost love. A love that never feels concrete but is worth fighting for in these guys’ eyes. The problem is Mud’s damsel in distress Juniper (played by a subdued and defeated Reese Witherspoon) is always falling out. She’s getting involved with the wrong company and getting herself into all sorts of trouble – at least, according to Mud.
What starts as a small curiosity pining on a shady homeless individual escalates to a secretive operation as Ellis starts to see more of himself in this enigmatic man. The same can be said both figuratively and, at one point, said quite literally about Mud’s admiration for these inquisitive kids.
Nichols’ film may sound like a mystery for reasons that are insinuated by the young curiosity found in Ellis and Neckbone – and it is – but Mud is much more. It’s an immensely effective movie about developing masculinity as these three main characters learn to grow up in one way or another. It’s a gripping, fantastic watch and you walk away from Nichols’ film having witnessed something incredible with its small scale story and amongst the acting, which includes star making performances from Sheridan and Lofland and a career high for McConaughey.
These performances are so quietly powerful, that they may make some overlook the greatness in other side roles. For instance, the grizzly hard-shelled Tom “the Assassin” Blankenship (played by Sam Shepard) is certainly a memorable portrayal that is as adequate as McConaughey’s role and as distraught as Mud.
Ray McKinnon is very good as Ellis’ father. While playing off a seemingly stereotypical redneck outer layer, McKinnon has the difficult task of being a dislikable hard ass, but also showing a more sympathetic side when he’s emasculated by his wife after he’s fittingly put into place.
Women aren’t represented as the source of all of man’s problems. It’s the refusal and stubbornness of a man that becomes his own worst enemy. Mud, without being heavy-handed, tells a terrific story abut this struggle and how a young mind can realize this apparent pitfall yet still find himself walking in those same footprints. Nichols can be sure he’ll find his outstanding film on many top ten lists come the end of this year.
Baz Luhrmann’s flashy adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby is a “production” in every sense of the word – as many of us expect it to be. In fact, the film evoked the same reaction I had when I watched Luhrmann’s much loved Oscar winner Moulin Rouge! in 2001.
Judging from these two examples, I find Baz Luhrmann likes to scream and shout during the first thirty minutes or so of his spectacles. It’s pretty to look at but especially alarming because it’s during these initial scenes when key characters and environments are introduced to us.
During this first leg of The Great Gatsby, audiences receive a lot of loud colours, a bombastic array of sounds, jarring and ridiculous modern day musical remixes, and quick cuts galore. The editing gets so speedy that characters aren’t even allowed to finish some single actions before Luhrmann and his editor decide to focus on something else.
Characters are also presented to us in no other way than to focus on the celebrity playing the role. When the mysterious Gatsby makes his way onto the screen, he’s presented in a way that makes it impossible for us not to see him as any other person than Leonardo DiCaprio. The same goes for a tired Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s soon-to-be best bud played by Tobey Maguire.
With all this razzle-dazzle and chaos, Baz Luhrmann is trying to emphasize and focus solely on the extravagance of Gatsby’s eventful parties, the high class, and the confusion and hysteria that occurs when one is settling in to a lifestyle. As Luhrmann has a ball behind the camera and the cast of well dressed attractive actors are consistently active dancing and talking with wide eyes, we sit in the audience questioning if we’ll be able to take the film seriously and be able to believe anything we’re seeing – as I did during the first thirty minutes of Moulin Rouge!.
However, we find ourselves allured and captured by Luhrmann’s style and his theatrics. It completely sucks us in to this tale of romance and tragedy – two familiar territories for the director.
The story about Gatsby’s endless love for Nick’s cousin Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) and his hard-wired devotion to persuade Daisy to leave her husband Tom (played by Joel Edgerton) is very entertaining as we watch Gatsby’s charisma and imagination act as tracks possibly leading to a messy train wreck.
We forget about which actor is playing who. The performances from Marguire and DiCaprio are enjoyable and the two leads work very well off of one another, making a great team. Mulligan, Edgerton, and other members of this ensemble are just as pleasant.
The Great Gatsby may translate to the screen as a flashy “production” but, as Baz Luhrmann has the ability to do, the film turns into an event – as if we’re watching a really well done and attractive stage play. The 3D may seem as if its there to throw confetti at moviegoers, but it’s also clearly there to add to the interactivity of the film – making us further believe we’re sitting front row centre at a delectable stage play and the actors are within reach.
I do wish Luhrmann finds a more successful way to be spectacular during cinematic introductions while not pushing his audience to squint and flinch. But for now, it’s that chaotic hysteria that leads to a consistently energetic and throughly pleasurable “production”. You win again, Baz.
Shawn Linden’s The Good Lie is good looking and straightforward with its premise that instantly hooks you.
A normal high schooler named Cullen (played by Thomas Dekker) is devastated after being pulled out of class to find out his mother Doris (played by Julie LeBreton) has died in a car accident. He’s even more upset after learning he’s the product of a horrific rape. Furious and upset, Cullen sets out to find his mother’s rapist with revenge and justice on his mind.
The film’s good ole’ revenge plot has enough risks and raised stakes to satisfy a moviegoer’s expectations. The emotional and well-qualified lead performance by Dekker adds to the engagingness of The Good Lie.
Dekker’s Cullen is constantly put in conundrums and exchanges that challenge his integrity while twisting and tugging on his heartstrings. It’s a role where an audience will question whether the actor is over doing it with the contorted facial expressions and the furrowed brows, but we realize the actor is nailing it as he’s being put into these troublesome situations written by Linden. Dekker has a captivating screen presence and we want to see how our hero gives this villain his well-deserved comeuppance.
Sadly, while the film is interesting for the first half, Linden gets carried away with his own noir style and characters that turns The Good Lie into a snake eating its own tail – offering a lot of the same and wringing all it can out of its eager snarling actors.
Linden has Cullen searching for people who are key in his search for the evil-doer. When Cullen finds who he’s looking for, they send him off in the right direction to find someone else. While Cullen’s mystery is carrying out, Doris’ husband Richard (played competently by Matt Craven) hunts for Cullen in order to track his son’s footprints – giving Richard his own mystery.
Linden’s storytelling method is greatly affecting having his script jump around to different points in the narrative providing lots of clever and cunning reveals that will dazzle any moviegoer. His continuity among the stories that play and the stories that follow that may have taken place before those prior events is pitch perfect. I would love to see this creative writer/director tackle time travel in his developing film career.
But, as The Good Lie’s surprises and innovativeness turn into the film’s formulaic routine, it’s hard to stay impressed. More characters give Cullen attitude and after the umpteenth baddie who gives Cullen a stunned snarl after the mention of who he’s looking for, it’s hard to take their roughness seriously as they growl lines out of this Tarantino lite screenplay.
Did I mention Cullen is planning on telling his story to friends around a campfire? At the beginning of The Good Lie, we understand that Cullen and his buddies escape to the woods to tell each other urban legends and other off-putting stories.
These moments with these younger characters are obviously here to break up the tension in this taut storyline, but does it have to be so obvious? As Linden hits pause on his more interesting storyline, the audience is transported back to the campfire to watch these annoying actors (sans Dekker) play obnoxious roles and tell their tale that I’m sure will be used as a monologuing staple in each of their demo reels.
They kid around with each other, swear, and remind us that they’re all just a group of hooligans wanting to hang out with the bro’s and drink some brews. But, again, do these brash beats in Linden’s script have to be so broad?
Unfortunately for The Good Lie, a pivotal jolt in the lead’s story is anticlimactic and goes against the satisfying nature that hooked us at the beginning – finishing the film on a humdrum note. If only Shawn Linden wasn’t too busy leading audiences on for too long, maybe then he could’ve thought of a striking way to maintain that buzz he established so well during the film’s initial build-up leading to a conclusion that snaps like a campfire’s blazing licks.
Many connections can be made through social networking, but obscure actor Rob Stewart made the ultimate one that also changed his life.
Through Facebook, Stewart discovered a TV show he starred in 20 years ago called Tropical Heat had taken on a new life in Serbia. A Serbian punk band named Atheist Rap contacted Rob and offered an opportunity where Rob could perform with them during a song dedicated to Stewart’s Tropical Heat character Nick Slaughter. Stewart agreed and before you can say “Slaughtermania”, Rob and his filmmaking pals Liza and Marc Vespi were on a plane headed for Serbia. The reception they received during their two-week stay was unforgettable.
Slaughter Nick for President is a bundle of fun – mostly because Stewart comes off as a nice, charismatic guy deserving enough to be recognized for his work. It’s delightful to see avid fans approach him for photos and to shake his hand. It’s as if Stewart has entered a whole other universe – one that’s completely different from his homestead in Brampton, ON.
There are even some moments where art imitates life. In a hilarious scene where Stewart is approached to star in a commercial for a product he’s unclear of while he reads his lines in an inflatable bubble, we can’t help but think of Bill Murray’s overwhelmed presence on the set of a game show in Lost in Translation.
As Stewart finds out more from Serbian sources, audiences can’t help but be in awe as well. During harsher times in Serbia when student protests were taking place against former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, the overall vibes and outlooks were very bleak. People would turn to Tropical Heat for the bright colours, Slaughter’s brand of humour, and for the silly action. This audience found optimism in Stewart’s Hawaiian shirts and ponytail.
Slaughter Nick for President lets audiences now just how effective escapist entertainment can be. Some may see these types of films and television as schlock, but this documentary shows just how much of an impact this entertainment can have in the places you wouldn’t have even thought of.
Though this new information about Stewart’s career is interesting and flooring, the moments where Stewart interviews various Serbians is where the documentary slowly comes to a halt.
Simply, the film needed more cameras and an editor who knew how to keep the interest high during talking head one-on-ones. The one camera set-up ensues long takes where the interviewee gabs and gabs and the lack of cutting makes these interviews drone on and on. In the film’s defence, they try to keep things moving by adding older news footage, stills, and fade-to-white transitions, but it just isn’t enough to satisfy moviegoers.
The energy diminishes partly because Stewart and company are brimming with energy during these initial scenes as they drink in Serbian culture. When this excitement takes extended breaks, it seriously affects the audience’s ability to stay as energized.
But, Slaughter Nick for President always knows how to return to form. One of the more rewarding scenes in the documentary – and one of the catchiest scenes I’ve seen recently – involves that climactic night where Rob Stewart assists Atheist Rap during their song ‘Slaughteru Nietzsche’ as a crowd full of young punks bounce around. It’s unreal for Stewart but as we’ve watched how everything has unfolded and led to this vibrant event, it’s equally as surreal and electric.