9 items from 2009
The director discusses his hilariously peculiar bank-robbing debut as it heads for DVD
Commercial director Monty Miranda makes his feature-length debut with Skills Like This, which hits DVD on November 17th, 2009. This exhilarating and humorous heist adventure follows aspiring writer Max (Spencer Berger) as he ditches his chosen profession to become a career criminal. Pulling his friends Dave (Gabriel Tigerman) and Tommy (Brian D. Phelan) along for the ride, the wild-haired Robin Hood-wannabe soon finds that a lot of emotional baggage comes with being an armed robber. When he falls hard for a bank teller (Kerry Knuppe) involved in his first heist, his life takes a startling turn for the better. We recently caught up with Miranda to chat about this terrific new film, and its home video release. Here's what Monty had to say:
Being quirky for quirky's sake is sometimes a huge misstep a lot of aspiring comedy directors seem to take. »
If I could define the main film theme of the '00s, it would be the presentation of the emptiness of soul. The lack of fulfillment in corporate blah (anti-corporate themes are also as prevalent this decade) and the growing restlessness in mainstream film. It's snark against the machine. An example of this can be seen in Skills Like This from director Monty Miranda, which exemplifies the glass half-empty mentality that permeates through Generation X-y. And it has the best white guy afro to ever grace the big screen.
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L I M I T E D
The New Twenty This is only playing here in New York at the tiniest screen known to mankind (Hi, Quad!) For a first film it's quite good. Ignore the generic 'we'll get the gays to see it!' poster (if the leading man looks familiar think Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" video) and somewhat clumsy title. The plot is a little shapeless but the characters are quite likeable and engaging. The sex lives and friendships of this makeshift family, some gay some straight, are more realistic than you usually see in movies. All that plus the film doesn't push its jokes -- some of the characters just happen to be funny. That's the way we like our laughs in ensemble dramas. B
Hunger If you've been reading lately you know that I highly recommend this one, the true story of a hunger »
- NATHANIEL R
12.00 Normal 0 false false false En-us X-none X-none MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 In the world of Indie film, the plotless ramble has been a staple for many years now, chiefly because they're suitably cheap and suitably manageable. Dialogue heavy, character driven, they can be set anywhere you like, with whoever you like and about anything you like. And while some are outstanding and others just plain dreadful, most of them at least have the decency to be about something. It's a relatively small, but relatively important detail that seems to have gotten lost somewhere with Skills Like This, which is maddening because it offers a quite unique and intriguing set up that's positively bursting with possibilities.
During the final act of Max's (Spencer Berger) latest stage opus, somewhere around the closing soliloquy delivered by the spaceman, the Wwi fighter ace and the Hispanic gypsy (which is so bad his grandfather has a coronary in »
- Neil Pedley
If at first you don't succeed, rob a bank.
Twenty-something Max, the focal point of the slacker comedy "Skills Like This," discovers the hard way that he's not meant to be a writer his grandfather suffers a massive heart attack while watching Max's dreadful play, "The Onion Dance."
So Max, a white dude with a giant Afro, robs a bank and discovers for the first time that he's good at something: a life of crime.
"All chicks want to bang a robber," Max (Spencer Berger, who also scripted) tells his buddies.
And that very night, »
- By V.A. MUSETTO
Most of the time, the indie-quirk genre is well-nigh intolerable, filled with broadly sketched characters speaking and behaving in ways that bear little relation to actual human behavior, in service of some sophomoric point about conformity or love or family. Skills Like This is only a partial exception. Aspiring more toward slacker comedy in the Office Space or Bottle Rocket vein than aching poignancy, Skills Like This is never great. But for its first half-hour, it’s more fitfully amusing than a movie about a bank-robbing playwright ought to be. The preposterously frizzy-haired Spencer Berger (who also wrote the film »
This week at the movies, we've got a bromantic comedy (I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel), ominous numerology (Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne), and corporate mischief (Duplicity, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen). We've also got a thriller about immigration from Central America (Sin Nombre), a showbiz dramedy (The Great Buck Howard, starring John Malkovich and Emily Blunt), a doc about an Italian fashion icon (Valentino: the Last Emperor), an indie crime caper comedy (Skills Like This), and a cinematic essay about artist/filmmaker Michel Auder (The Feature). What do the critics have to say? »
As the San Francisco Independent Film Festival drew to a close yesterday, it bowed out with a final night time showing of Deadgirl, a controversial picture that challenges the audience's idea of sex and the coming-of-age. It's a nice bookmark to its opening night film, Somers Town, which is also about two teenage boys and a girl, but is at the opposite end of the spectrum. In between, we have films that are either full of life or apologetically cynical, completing a journey from the sweet to the depraved.
Here's a recap of the interesting independent films we had the chance to see.
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"It uses otherworldly elements to perform a horrific probe of the human experience, which is what the best horror films always do." (Read more)
"After confronting xenophobia so thoroughly and intensely in This is England, Somers Town is the perfect show of progression, »
- Arya Ponto
What if you discover that you were born to steal?
That’s the central premise of Skills Like This, a post-collegiate comedy about finding your place in the world—even if it is criminal. Monty Miranda’s debut film sets itself apart from other noted independent comedies by dropping the indie-cute hip and distances itself from other similar slacker-flicks by infusing a high level of fast-paced rock-and-roll energy. A previous rougher version of the film won the Audience Award at SXSW in 2007, so there's little surprise that its final version is the coolest, funniest movie I saw at this year’s Indiefest.
Screenwriter and star Spencer Berger is Max, a dead-end playwright with a huge Jewfro whose stage play "Onion Dance" is so incomprehensibly bad that his grandfather goes into a coma watching it, raising the question “Can someone see something so shitty that they almost die from it?” Clearly, »
- Arya Ponto
9 items from 2009
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