|Index||3 reviews in total|
Alex Ross Perry's The Color Wheel is proof that indie narcissism can
occasionally pull out the goods.
Filmed on grainy 16mm, it's a meandering road movie about two underachieving, alienated siblings. After she splits up with her professor-cum-boyfriend , aspiring news anchor J.R. (Carlen Altman) begs her shlubby younger brother Colin (played by director Perry) to help her back up the remnants of her miserable life and move on to the next. The journey across the States causes quite a stir, with the pair constantly berating each other in that conventional brotherly-sisterly banter way. It escalates to a harrowing final ten minutes, where the familial relationship is tested and it's clear that, if they weren't to have each other, they wouldn't have anything.
Like many a-mumblecore movie before it, The Color Wheel consists of verbal sparring and excruciatingly awkward long takes. Unlike those insufferable predecessors, Perry and Altman's script moves with great acerbic force, audaciously treating the blackly comic as flippant light humor. It's quite similar in tone to Rick Alverson's The Comedy, starring Tim Heidecker, only the two loathsome characters here are presented with more compassion, actually having a narrative arc to follow right up to the film's bitter end.
Whilst the scenes shared between the two are close to Alvy Singer>Annie Hall style perfection, The Color Wheel loses it's spark when the pair are backed up by cliché filler characters the sorority bitch, the dumb jock, the rich kids during a horrendous dinner party. It's the only time when the amateur acting and forced dialogue reflect it's minor budget production qualities.
With improvised dialogue, a roaming plot, grainy 16mm stock and Sean Price Williams' artless cinematography, The Color Wheel absolutely stinks of Husbands-era John Cassavetes. Not that it's a bad scent, but it permeates throughout the film and leads the homage into unwarranted pastiche, and ultimately externalizes us from the drama.
Even still, this minor tragicomedy, is a minor triumph for Perry and star in the making Altman. For fans of all things awkward, this unassuming movie sets the m-m-m-mumblecore wheel back in motion.
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Pretty funny black and white film follows an argumentative brother and
sister combo as he drives her on a road trip upstate to try and get her
things out of her ex lover's apt. While in the town she runs into some
people they knew back in high school who invite her to crash a party
while dragging her brother begging and pleading not to alongside her.
While the movie's plot doesn't sound like too much--you get such a
strong sense of the two characters personalities (and their gradual
realizations about their would be lives) that just watching the two of
them argue back and fourth throughout the film's running time proves to
be quite funny. Watching them try to get upstate in the first half is a
surprisingly funny movie in itself. The two characters'lifelike ability
to work up a good rhythm with their dialog while picking on each other
keeps you on your toes enough for you to really get into the movie's
flow. This also keeps the movie's pace sharp and just quick enough for
you to almost miss the more subtle turn the film takes in its second
half. When you get to the movie's end, you might be a little jarred,
but you'll have definitely enjoyed the ride there at least.
The second half does gets slightly more dramatic, but not anywhere close to really damper the breezy mood the film's already established so far. While the film will inevitably (and somewhat wrongly) get tagged with the "mumblecore" label, the fact is the strong and at times stinging dialog keeps it from being just another indie film about slackery young people talking about nothing. The two lead performances also vary a bit more then the typical non performances found in "mumblecore" type films, and the tone of the whole movie remains firmly in the director's control the entire time without ever sacrificing the humor that sometimes comes with slight character growth. It definitely helps that the slightly Tina Fey looking sister played by the very good Carleen Altman can't help but standout given the focus on her character and the depth given to her by the screenplay. This one's a much more accessible film then you'd ever imagine a mumblecore type movie to be and that could very well be its key to being seen by more people.
The Color Wheel is a truly awful movie. Let's start with the simple
fact that the title has nothing to do with the movie, which was shot in
black and white for an unknown and almost certainly completely
pointless reason. A 'slacker road trip' film, I can buy the idea that
the filmmakers were trying to capture some Clerks like magic and failed
It's the story of a brother and sister on a road trip, played by the couple who made the thing, which gives it a very weird vibe off the bat. The dialog is all improvised, which can be a good thing if the people doing the improvising have talent. This couple does not. If you've ever been stuck on a long car ride with people who think they're witty and won't stop bickering until you have the urge to put an icepick into someone's head (possibly your own) then you have experienced this film. The big Shock! Twist! ending is so unmotivated, and the characters are so unlikeable, that it feels painfully forced and falls flat. And if you haven't walked out of the theater by that point in a vain hope that it might get better you will be thoroughly disappointed. Stay home and watch reruns of the Simpsons instead of subjecting yourself to this mess.
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