Friday, January 19, 2007

of dumplings and curry

in the summer of 2003, i went up to preston idaho and worked on a goofy little movie called 'napoleon dynamite'.
in the summer of 2004, 'napoleon dynamite' was the crazy surprise hit of the summer and i'm sometimes in bafflement even to this day.
in the summer of 2005, a lot of the 'nappy d' crowd got together in the beautiful [and rainy] forests of oregon to make a movie called 'the sasquatch dumpling gang'.
in the winter of 2006, 'sdg' played at the slamdance film festival in park city, but i didn't find out until it was too late. i heard mixed reviews about it.
in the winter of 2007, 'sdg' played at the lds film festival in orem, ut, and i saw it.
it was better than i feared it would be.

in the middle of december of last year [i.e. last month], we had a reunion of film friends from byu, and i had a fun chat with stacey snider. we decided we should get together sometime and do whatever people do when they get together. on this particular evening, that included a movie staring a guy who is now a mac and a some bigfoot poo. we then added thai food and a game of mah-jong, for good measure.

it's always an interesting experience, seeing a movie that you worked on, because we shot it out of order and context, the actors are the same guys you have dinner with, and all those names in the credits are your friends.
i liked the parts of the script that i had read, and i thought i could see where they were going with the script; it was very much akin to 'nappy d', but if anyone was allowed to follow that, this group was. but i felt that the casting for 'gavin', the lead kid, was inaccurate; instead of an awkward kid with glasses and a crew cut, they got a teen hearthrob. i'd never heard of him, but kohl, my friend and hotel roommate, told me that if you google his name, you get a lot of sites devoted to him. i have no reason to doubt that, as everywhere we went, groups of teenage girls would gather, just hoping to get a glimpse of jeremy sumpter. this casting decision yielded different results than what i, as the camera loader, invisioned for the movie. couple that with the difficulties we had in meeting our daily schedules and i was feeling worried for this script that held potential.

it's a fine movie. it won't sweep the nation by storm, but i think it could do well in theaters and make its money back. the 'rashomon' structure works nicely, showing different branches of the story develop, and so adding dimension to the movie. justin long, now famous as the 'mac', was a joy to watch on set, and that charisma holds on the screen. he plays a 30-year old white trash neighbor, and balances the line dividing character and caricature with ease. his energy and enthusiasm carry the movie.
i was surprised at the other character that stood out to me: sophie. in a movie of six main characters, five guys play distinct varieties of nerds, freaks, and geeks. yet sophie, 'the girl', manages to avoid any exageration or hyperbole, and instead deveops a nice girl who we believe is real; she is not the drop-dead attractive girl who likes the nerds only because the script tells her to, nor is she bland and one-dimensional. delicately played by addie land, she fits like a welcome breath of fresh air amidst all the skewed boys around her. she was quiet on set, but stood out on screen without being distracting.
somehow, the whole thing worked. despite being contrary to my presupositions, gavin's character fit into the fictional world of clackanomah, oregon, although it may be that the world fit around gavin.

the provo-orem area is ripe with thai places, but my personal favorite is the thai ruby, just south of byu. and while i am trying to branch out and try new things, i really couldn't see any reason to not get the green cury yet again. and the conversation was as exhuberant as the food, if food can be called exhuberant; stacey and i told stories of world travel, swapped elephant stories, and discussed the structural and thematic elements of 'the office'.

comfortably full, as thai food often does to one, we went back to the house and i taught the peoples how to play the ancient chinese game of mah-jong. i really do love this game, and, after a few rounds and a little help translating the chinese characters, i had a made three more fans who could differentiate between a 'chow' and a 'pung'.

a few 'office' psa's and we called it a pretty awesome night.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Some of us remember Justin from roles on Galaxy Quest and Ed. He's the bomb!