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I saw this movie at SXSW in Austin right after attending a panel about the making of the movie. The film was originally to be directed by funny man David Wain of Stella fame, but he pulled out to direct "the Ten" which is an amazing film. I expected the film to be funny. Ken Marion, who wrote it, is a hilarious comedian. Paul Rudd, the lead actor, has been in comedies almost exclusively since Wet Hot American Summer and David Wain, who produced the film, is hilarious. The movie, however, was very serious. It had some amazingly hilarious moments, but overall it was a moving, serious film. I was most amazed at the fact that they pulled it off with style. A bunch of comedians made a moving, well structured, meaningful, fulfilling drama. Everyone should see it.
How refreshing it is to encounter an art house, "independent" film that
doesn't rely on "quirkiness," "eclecticism" or "eccentricity" to
impress the viewer with its cleverness. Instead, "Diggers" is a
realistic slice-of-life drama that plays it straight with its audience,
viewing both its characters and their situations without cynicism or
Set in 1976, "Diggers" focuses on four young men leading lives of quiet desperation, working as independent clam diggers on Long Island Sound. All four have pretty much accepted the fate life has handed them, although one, a talented photographer named Hunt (Paul Rudd), dreams vaguely of one day starting a new life away from his family home and business, if only he can muster enough personal courage and initiative to actually make the move. His married buddy, Lozo (Ken Marino, who also wrote the screenplay), is more firmly tied down to the area by the responsibilities he has as husband and father to an ever-expanding brood of undisciplined children. The remainder of the quartet consists of Jack (Ron Eldard), a devil-may-care womanizer, who becomes romantically involved with Hunt's thirty-six year old divorced sister, Gina (Maura Tierney); and Cons (Josh Hamilton), a perpetually stoned pseudo-hippie philosopher who, of all the characters, seems most in tune with the drug culture loopiness of the period in which the movie is set. In addition to Gina, the women in their lives include Lozo's levelheaded but eternally frustrated wife, Julie (Sarah Paulson), and Zoe (Lauren Ambrose from "Six Feet Under"), a pretty young woman from Manhattan who has a brief summertime flirtation with Hunt.
Written by Marino and directed by Katherine Dieckmann, "Diggers" is so low-keyed in its attitude and tone that it may feel to some viewers as if nothing much really happens in the film. Yet, in many ways, this is the major selling-point of the movie - that it doesn't feel obligated to make big dramatic gestures to unravel its characters or maintain our interest. Marino and Dieckmann have a nice feel for the rhythms of life, as everyday, casual moments are given equal weight with major, life-altering events - the death of a parent, the announcement of a pregnancy, the final farewell to a dearly departed.
If there is a flaw in the film, it is that the movie is simply too short (a mere 89 minutes) to allow for the kind of plot expansion and probing character development we rightfully expect from a work of this sort. In fact, due primarily to the time constraints, two of the buddies, Jack and Cons, are reduced to little more than minor characters in the overall fabric of the story. An additional half hour or so in the running time would have gone a long way towards correcting that problem. As compensation, the director exploits to the full the bucolic richness of the unfamiliar setting, and captures the laid-back quality of an era in which the youthful idealism of an earlier time has all but evaporated in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate. The movie also touches on the threat of creeping globalization as these family-run clam-digging operations are beginning to be squeezed out of business by an impersonal conglomeration that has recently moved into the area. Through Lozo's character, in particular, the movie effectively dramatizes the stress and strain working-class couples and families go through when they are living literally paycheck to paycheck, along with the compromises they are forced to make just to keep their heads above water.
Rudd, who has long been underrated as an actor, provides a beautifully understated performance as the soul-searching Hunt, and he is superbly abetted by the other members of the cast.
More anecdote than full-fledged narrative, "Diggers" has the benefit of not taking itself or its characters too seriously. It presents its story in a naturalistic, matter-of-fact manner, without fanfare and fuss and devoid of high-minded sermons or heavy-breathing lectures. "Diggers" is the very definition of self-effacing film-making.
Capturing a bit of Americana, a parcel of life foreign in nature to our
own, has offered the opportunity to appreciate the diversity of living
and of people in this country populated by ordinary yet extraordinary
beings. Films that have focused on little family ventures ('Mystic
Pizza'-type films) make us examine our own niche and grow to love
variations on a single theme. DIGGERS, as written by Ken Marino (who
also stars), is just such a story, a window on the life of clam diggers
in the shores off Long Island. Yet as directed by Katherine Dieckmann
and acted by a particularly fine cast, DIGGERS addresses the changes
that occur in each of us as we progress from teenagers to adults - and
all the potentially crippling and thrilling factors that can and do
Four friends who dig for clams as their families have done for generations interact on levels of levity and anger, support and misunderstanding, and woven through the background of these four men's lives are the women (and children) who influence them. The apparently disparate men include wannabe photographer Hunt (Paul Rudd), procreator Lozo (Ken Marino), druggie philosopher Cons (Josh Hamilton), and womanizer Jack (Ron Eldard). Their lives intersect on many levels: the women in their lives - Hunt's needy divorced sister Gina (Maura Tierney) who after their father's death falls for Jack, Hunt's 'summer girlfriend' Zoey (Lauren Ambrose), and Lozo's constantly pregnant wife Julie (Sarah Paulson) - and the changes in the entire business of clamming rights as big business steps into the water. How these characters cope with the static that jars their day-to-day existence may seem small in importance to an outsider, but by the end of the film, we 'the outsiders' have grown to know and appreciate and love this little band of fellow beings.
The cast displays excellent ensemble acting and while the film has its rough edges, so does the little corner of the world described. It is a quiet little film, all the more beautiful for being so unpretentious. Grady Harp
I often wondered, after seeing "Reno 911" and the other TV/movies done
by the Michael Ian Black part of MTV's "The State," what had happened
to Ken Marino? Sure he was in a couple bit parts with "Reno," but never
a regular with any of the future endeavors by his old comedy troupe.
Thanks to HDNet Films, Marino has been brought into the film world with
his writing debut Diggers. This film is a drama to its core, yet also
one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while. It's good to see
that my old MTV comedians are all seeing some sort of success today.
Diggers is a tale of a small clamming community on Long Island. Like most working class towns, the people all know each other from school days and just growing up in close proximity with parents of similar occupation. A huge conglomerate has come to town, restricted the best clam areas, and taken away much of the towns financial opportunities. Some have defected and sold out to earn money for their families, however, the die-hard diggers at the forefront of this tale refuse to give in. They go out there and work for what little they can to scrap by and support their loved ones. Our main conduit into the story is Hunt, played perfectly by the always great Paul Rudd. He is a dreamer, taking photos wherever he goes, but still does his clam digging, meeting up with his father later in the day after sleeping in first. This day changes everything, though, as Hunt's father dies on the water. Everyone comes together for the funeral and you start to see a change for this group of friends and how they will continue their lives.
Rudd has the right mix of sarcasm and protective mindset for those he loves along with bottled up emotions just waiting to be let out. Diggers is at its core a story of how he finally looks at his life and decides to do what he wants; first though, he needs to accept himself and deal with the tragedy that has followed his life to this point. His mother always wanted to take him to the city when he got older, but she never got the chance. Maybe through the course of events in this film, he can finally get the courage to see what is out there for him.
Rudd is not the only shining spot in the movie. This is a great cast of "those guy" actors. Maura Tierney is effective as Hunt's sister, coping with the loss of her father and a burgeoning relationship with an odd choice for a suitor; Lauren Ambrose is fun as the city girl on vacation, "silent flirting" with Rudd until he ruins the façade; Ron Eldard shows his comedic worth as he always does in small roles; and Sarah Paulson plays the mother of five with love and compassion, but also an edge to counteract the verbal tirades of her husband. That husband steals every scene, and is played by our writer, Ken Marino. The scene that introduces his character in the bathroom is priceless. You have to give him credit for writing the role for himself so effectivelythe hypocritical speech, swearing in front of his kids yet jumping at them when they swear is hilarious, and the verbal wars with his wife, always ending in a smile, are fantastic. Anytime a father can yell at his kids to go outside and play as punishment, and have it work, I'm totally with that role waiting anxiously for what he may do next like sending them outside in the rain to finish their breakfast.
Overall Diggers is a wonderful little gem to enjoy. The laughs are big, but they surround a story that is really about friendship and family and the love necessary to work through it all. If nothing else, Marino infused his script with plenty of heart and you are with these crazy people from the start, experiencing how one tragedy can open their eyes and change their courses for the future. I can't wait now to see his follow-up The Ten.
In 1976, America's bicentennial, four friends - amateur photographer
Paul Rudd (as Hunt), married man Ken Marino (as Frankie Lozo),
promiscuous Ron Eldard (as Jack), and druggie Josh Hamilton (as Cons) -
fret about losing their livelihood as Long Island, NY clam "Diggers" as
the economy changes to favor corporate claming. The women in their
lives include Mr. Rudd's sister Maura Tierney (as Gina), his city flame
Lauren Ambrose (as Zoey), and Mr. Marino's perpetually pregnant wife
Sarah Paulson (as Julie).
It is interesting that Islip born co-star Marino also wrote the story, because the drama really comes to life during the scene when Ms. Paulson tells him she is expecting yet another child. The couple's situation is real, well-played, and timeless. Marino subsequent frustration after suiting up to fill out a job application leads to probably the film's best moment. Otherwise, to quote Hamlet, "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," in director Katherine Dieckmann's setting and character driven drama.
***** Diggers (9/9/06) Katherine Dieckmann ~ Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Maura Tierney, Lauren Ambrose
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Diggers -well made small budget movie about the Baymen of the 1970s on
Long Island.Good ensemble cast featuring Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney as
a brother and sister dealing with the passing of their father.A
compelling mixture of comedy and drama-we follow 4 diggers as they deal
with the encroachment of a clamdigging corporation and family
troubles.Ron Eldard,Lauren Amrose,Sarah Paulson & Ken Marino round out
The DVD has an hour long documentary on the Baymen,a 30 minute featurette on the movie and a commentary track by the writer and director.Authentic feel and a sharp dialogue make this a good snapshot of the 70s and the world of the clamdiggers.Worth a rental. B
You feel it. It's rarely that this is an opening statement we can make
about a movie. In the case of Katherine Dieckmann's "Diggers", everyone
and everything is so transparent, so joyfully alive and in pain at the
same time that you can't help but feeling it. The film begins with a
death and a funeral...yes, I know, typical, and it hurts even more to
say that it happens in the very small Long Island. However, none of the
two contrivances are what you'd expect.
Hunt (Paul Rudd), a clam digger, is going to the river so he can make peace with his father (also a clam digger), who shipped out earlier than him and is waiting. He stops by her sister Gina's (Maura Tierney), to get the coffee their dad likes: "Black, three sugar", a nice family detail. When Hunt gets near his dad's boat, he has fallen on the water. His heart stopped. The old man's funeral is not the event itself, but how Hunt's friends (all clam diggers) get to it so we can get to know them: Cons (Josh Hamilton), a drug user who's always complaining about the world and also admiring it; Jack (Ron Eldard), a womanizer who seemingly cares about nothing; and Lozo (Ken Marino), his wife Julie (the beautiful Sarah Paulson) and their kids, a movie family to remember.
There's a beautiful moment, the film's finest moment, which is -not by chance- in the poster. Hunt, Jack and Conso are smoking outside the funeral home in a perfectly composed shot, and some seconds later Lozo comes out the door and joins them to form a beautiful image that we admire to the sound of a gaita. It's funeral music, but the funeral is long over. These people have other issues to deal with: life, work, the threat of a big company, the constant illusion of something mildly better that doesn't betray their ideals. Traditional clam diggers like them would never sell out to a major company.
Between what they hide and what they know (about their lives and about life in general), between what they like and what they don't (love stories, old and new), between what they should and shouldn't do, or what they must do because there's no other way; in a fine line between the promises people make to themselves and the things they settle for, wanders this tale of wanderers. Ken Marino wrote a brilliant, flawed script that asks a lot of questions and makes the viewer ask some more. A developed character piece that ends up in a climax that might be too big for a small place, but nothing makes it less poignant.
Once you've met the characters, you can't leave them behind. You feel it: the need for an answer (like, why do we hurt each other so much?), the solution to the mystery (in another beautiful moment, Hunt stops his boat near Zoey's, a woman he's been watching for weeks..."what are you doing? You broke our silent flirtation", she tells him; and that's a moment of character definition in a perfect performance by Lauren Ambrose), that joy in the midst of the pain.
It says something that Hunt takes lovely photographs, as an amateur; that Gina discovers she wants to live again; that Lozo loves his wife above all things; that Cons is constantly trying to finding a meaning; that Jack may actually mean his love. The performances are splendid, all along, specially Rudd in a role we are not used to see him and proves he can do just about everything and do it right. Marino, who wrote the script and his character, so he understands the 1976 setting feeling enough to create a sympathetic family father that you can love and hate, follows him closely. The roles and performances of Paulson and Tierney are another proof of two immense talents that we don't get to see very often. Eldard and Hamilton: impressive revelations.
We need more of these stories, about feeling. Because Dickmann did a good job with "Diggers", a movie well acted, very well written and developed in every aspect. However, more than anything, very well told. Yes, a lot of well told stories that, if possible, care for characters and understand them, without taking them for granted. And, if it's not much more to ask, no definitive endings. That's what we need
Just watched Diggers last night and still am unsure about what I
thought about it. Ken Marino is definitely one funny man, and this film
was all written by him. His character is honestly the funniest of the
entire movie. He played the part the right way and it lead to some
fantastic laughs. Paul Rudd stars in probably one of the greatest
performances he's ever done. His acting of his character was so
convincing that it shows he can be more than a funny guy, but also a
dramatic actor. This movie overall was pretty decent, it wasn't the
greatest thing I've ever seen, but this is definitely worth checking
out once just to say you saw it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the simple story of 4 friends who are clam diggers, there
families were clam diggers for many generations past.
The time period is 1976 in a small town in Long Island,N.Y. The people & situations are real, This drama could have taken place anywhere off any Coast,It could be about small fish,.
These are people with families trying to make a living & raise there families.
Ken Marino wrote the screenplay & has a nice role as well. Katherine Dieckmann directed. It has a cast of mainly featured players in film & Television, Paul Rudd, Maura Tierney, Lauren Ambrose, Ron Eldard. Sara Paulson, Josh Hamilton & Ken Marino are the main players and all are very good. The film is well made,the music is of the period.
I liked the movie BUT this could have & should have been better. It is possible if a male directed,it would have been better.
One other problem I did have was that even though people did smoke heavily in the l970's,It seemed to be forced & not natural, like the actors were not into smoking.
The movie had a very short theatrical run in on under 20 screens in 2007. It did deserve better.
Due to its R rating (language & drug use),it is not for children they would be bored as it is too mature for them
It is worthwhile to see, don't expect much,there are a few funny scenes,but this is mainly a drams.
Ratings: *** (out of 4) 81 points(out of 100) IMDb 7 (out of 10)
The reviews were pretty good for this one, and a former girlfriend of
mine is in love with Paul Rudd, so that was the main reason I ended up
seeing it. It was good...actually writer Ken Marino steals just about
every scene that he's in. Lauren Ambrose does a good job, and I always
have liked Maura Tierney.
Nothing special though. If you are interested in seeing it, then do so. If you're not, I wouldn't be going out of my way for this one.
The funniest part (unintentionally, I'm sure) of this movie is in the DVD Special Features, where a film reviewer in Dallas, who is affiliated with HDNet (the film's backer) says something like, "I know my company is affiliated with this movie, but this is honestly the best movie I've seen in the past year or year and a half." Please! It's nowhere near that good! Way to be objective!
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