Free Samples (2012)
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All in all, I for one enjoyed this more than many big budget movies: the characters have something to say, the comedy is nicely observed, the camera is tight (even semi-documentary), it's well edited and well shot with a great sense of slacker pace about it and it has a charm of its own.
Seriously, a nice gentle comedy set sround one day of looking after an artificial ice-cream van (so free samples) with some vitriol in the exchanges - the whole thing come across as ten times more honest than most comedies and this is one I would warmly recommend.
I love Jess Weixler's sardonic personality. And it works great especially in the first half with Jason Ritter. They have a fun combative conversation. It's not so much with Jesse Eisenberg. She has more chemistry with Ritter.
The last half does stumble a little bit. Tippi Hedren is playing an interesting character but it's just too cliché. And when school friend Paula drops by, it hits that speed bump a little too hard. For that kind of coincidence, it could never maintain any believability.
The somewhat vacuous storyline and the rather dull setting, IE a bashed up ice cream van in a sub-urban parking lot are non-the-less brightened up by the excellent Jesse Weixler.
If you like your movies full of action and special effects then forget this one.
This indie piece shows how so much can hit you throughout a day of serving chocolate or vanilla ice-cream samples. With subtle emotional input and very funny scenes, 'Free Samples' is a desert not to be turned down.
The main character 'Jillian' has reached a wall in her life and is at a loss on how to break through this barrier. She is asked by her friend 'Nancy' for a short favor. Jillian reluctantly agrees to help and in doing so learns a life lesson about herself and others that she believes to be her friends.
The greatest asset to this film is the fantastic dialog the actors expertly deliver and the smooth crisp editing! Even the little children briefly seen are at their best before the camera. And Tippi Hedron as Betty the aged and former movie star is just perfection!
I cannot praise this flick enough as I see it as quite perfect start to finish. Bravo Jay Gammill !!!
Although Jillian may not be the most pleasant character in a film, I found her to be someone I can relate to. Everyone goes through times of uncertainty and doubt, but many people try to hide those tough times and Jillian does not. She is an honest character and tells it as it is from her perspective, which I have to respect. She is not concerned about the consequences and has a quiet boldness about her. As time progresses, she begins to open up and connect with some the customers that cross her path.
Jess Weixler does a great job capturing the frustration and uncertainty of Jillian without being irritating. Weixler is definitely someone I will be keeping my eye on as she continues in her acting career. It was also nice to see Jesse Eisenberg play the confident love interest, which just demonstrates his versatility as an actor. The appearance of Jason Ritter, Halley Feiffer and Tippi Hedren add more dimension to the film. The small roles by Jordan Davis and Wendy Shapero caught my special attention.
In addition to the acting, I greatly enjoyed the music which was scored by Eric Elbogen of "Say Hi". It was simple and not overdone which matched the overall tone of film. And it was enough to be noticed, but balanced enough not take anything away from the film. The camera-work by Reed Morano is very well done and the direction by newcomer Jay Gammill should also be applauded.
Apparently in the same universe where a self-absorbed Cali-blonde Stanford law student would be SHOCKED, SHOCKED I say, to learn that 5 years after she left home, her dad moved out and took up with a trophy bimbo. That evidently never happens in alternate universe Z, so of course it sends our heroine into a drunken tailspin where she must engage in contrived sardonic banter with every unlikely walk-on character who ambles by her pseudo ice cream truck. Sadly, none of these encounters feels more forced or contrived than the heroine's confrontation with her unwanted fiancée.
After 90 minutes of this I yearned to get back to our universe where Cheech and Chong would have a very good business plan for that ice cream truck working the ghetto and where all their customers' curious demands for "stamps" would make sense.
I couldn't find anything to like about any of them... The characters all seemed like whiners to me... Oh my Dad is a big bad lawyer, my brother is an addict, I'm in a crappy band... I got a crappy cowboy hat! Why would you bother with the main character at all? Sure she is cute but she is also a mean bitch... She treats everyone like crap and then runs crying to someone else when she gets some bad news...
Stay away... Time waster...
5 howls outta 10...
Due to the increase in college attendance in recent years and the fact that numbers for graduates are increasing, it is not surprising to see many films made by young people staring young people about being young people. In a society like the one aforementioned, these kinds of films are essential. They provide the audience with qualities that are relatable and realistic to a generation that will always be marginally shortchanged and misunderstood. Films like Free Samples can't perfectly articulate post-adolescence but they can certainly help ease the pain.
The film stars Jess Weixler as Jillian, a law-school dropout who agrees to man an ice cream van that is supposed to remain stationary in a small town distributing free samples to passersby. Hungover, moody, and quick-witted, Jillian distributes the ice cream samples with large amounts of attitude and condescending wit that is equal parts rude and hilarious. In the middle of this, she begins to piece together last night as if it was a hazy detectives story. She recalls a hookup with Tex (Jesse Eisenberg), who shows up to try and help her remember, and tries to end a relationship that has simply run its course during this day, as well as dealing with every strange soul on the face of the earth.
Consistent readers will recognize this as further proof of my love for not only independent films but one-setting pictures. Writer Jim Beggarly's loose but interesting character study-focus combined with Gammill's studious, controlled direction (never too watery, never too dry) make this film stand on its own two feet nicely. Weixler, who was the supporting role last year in The Lie as a wife whose husband tells an unforgiving lie in order to evade responsibility and work, gives a gifted performance here. It's a performance that's morose enough to keep us apprehensive towards her character but just likable and funny enough to keep us watching in smiles.
Eisenberg doesn't have as big of a role as you may think, despite being top billing, and yet he isn't used for his name either. It doesn't appear as stunt casting, giving Eisenberg's name still isn't yet on the list of A-listers (although it should be). He's the kind of actor that no matter how mainstream he gets he will likely never adopt the actory presence stars get when they've clearly evolved from humble beginnings to landmark actors. I can see Eisenberg always remaining slightly to the left of the mainstream focus, which is where I like him the best.
Free Samples, if had maybe a few thousand dollars less in its budget, could've been a film more categorized as "mumblecore" rather than just another independent film. The watermark would've likely got it shoved around more in local, more reclusive circuits and more discussion within the collegian demographic. Nonetheless, it deserves success on its own merits for having quietly entertaining writing and smart, reserved direction. If you feel the need to gamble one night with your video-on-demand purchase, I couldn't see a better film to roll the dice on.
Starring: Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jason Ritter. Directed by: James Gammill.
I especially liked the supporting role of Halley Feifer, but also Tippi Hedren, Jesse Eisenberg and Wendy Shapero are worth mentioning. The story of 'changing souls' was great, except for the minor detail that if they actually exchanged souls, 'Tex' would now be Keith...
A big 7 out of 10.
If I were to write and direct a movie about gangsters or crime, this would be it. I wouldn't change one damn thing. Not a thing. Everything in this film was, to my eye, perfect - casting, the camera-work, the excellent dialogue ("It's been emotional.")
Now I don't have much to compare this to, and I've heard some criticism that it basically draws quite heavily from older British crime dramas. I've got a bunch of these on my queue to rent, but I doubt you could make a crime film better than this.
This film oozes with style, class, dark humor, plot twists and turns, and doesn't drag one bit. The casting and characterization is perfect, and Ritchie isn't afraid to move the cameras around; no pretense is really made here at "realism" - Jay Gammill doesn't mask the fact that it's a film and he runs with it.
I really don't think of myself as easily impressed, and I have seen a hell of a lot of films in my time, but this one instantly made my Top 10 after only a single viewing. Yes, I'm raving about it, and while it may not be "spiritually enriching" or contain any deep sociological content (which I actually do look for in films), somehow it still scores as one hell of a film; memorable and entertaining, and stands up well to multiple viewings.
I am a bit dismayed to see some of the marketing of this film comparing it to other things like Juno. It really does it a disservice because this film really is its own phenomenon and stands on its own two feet; if anything it is similar to Juno films only because it actually has its own bold style.
Now the plot may not sound promising, but here goes. Hungover Jillian (Weixler) is asked by a friend, Nancy (Feiffer) to help her out for a morning by doing her job giving out free samples of ice cream from a van. The film covers the day in question and all Jillian's encounters, and there is a moment in the film roughly half way when the dialogue between Jillian and A.N. Other is, for me, is its real, and very loaded, premise. And that is why I loved it because there is wisdom embodied in what follows.
The writing and script are as good as you could wish for, with a Tippi Hedren appearance as an ageing movie star to add a touch of spice to the ingredients, and a rich subtlety to the proceedings.
Jess Weixler is perfectly cast, with a whole range of faces to accompany her pregnant pauses, or sharp responses to being baited, but she is so nearly upstaged by Ms Hedren's appearance as Betty, the ageing movie star.
There is nothing pretentious about this film and it is so very easy on eyes, and ears whilst only demanding you think abut things if you really want to.
Very warmly recommended.
The leads were funny,but believable, and the pace was kept brisk by a constant parade of short (funny) scenes by various characters. And you don't find many films around which the central theme is ice cream! (Did make me hungry for it, by the end!) Nice job, folks! A good one to go to or rent when you want a light mood.
Jillian, our dropout, is played by Jess Weixler, whom you may recognize from the TV series The Good Wife. She is in three movies this year, and judging from her brilliant performance in Free Samples, she will be a household name before too long. She owns the screen, not in that Julia Roberts way, but rather in the way of a normal, good-looking person. Sarcasm drips from her lips like honey, providing perspective rather than destroying it. She lets her guard down just twice during the film; once when she is listening to the tales of a former movie star, and again at the end when she agrees to allow a man named Tex (played by Jessie Eisenberg, whom we all have grown to love and trust) to seduce her into giving him a chance. Both moments scream through the rest of her otherwise reserved performance, finally letting us see what is going on inside her shell.
There is a point in the movie when she is crying about a lover who has just dumped her, and she admits that the reason she is crying is because she cannot believe she wasted so much time on someone she didn't really care about — and certainly never loved. It was a relief to see her articulate on the screen the dirty secret many of us carry, a feeling that is so real to so many women. Settle, we tell ourselves. Be comfortable. Accept boredom. Bury the passion. Oh, the lives we can lead without fighting!
We never see the ice cream. I wanted to see the ice cream. I wanted to see more of the inside of the truck. I want to know more about what she might have become. I am clueless. And while I'm sure the ambiguous ending was all part of the point of the movie, I want to know there is more than just the hope she can end up with a good guy like Tex. (He really is a good guy, isn't he?) I want to know that she will find something to be passionate about, something that will motivate her to action. What will she do with her days after the reel ends?
The direction is great — there is none. Jay Gammill, who looks like he's ten, has a fresh approach to direction, and it works. Just point the camera at the day's events unfolding around a truck. Nice. You feel as if there is a chair from KMart set up in front of the truck and you are sitting there with popcorn in your lap, watching a young woman crankily giving out samples of bad ice cream and the lessons she and those sampling learn along the way. Fabulous.
Pointless and annoying indie comedy film about a law student dropout who goes back home to Los Angeles to 'find herself' and runs her friend's ice cream truck for a day. The film was written by first time feature film writer Jim Beggarly and directed by first time feature film director Jay Gammill. It stars Jess Weixler and features cameos by Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Matt Walsh, Whitney Able, Halley Feiffer and Tippi Hedren. The supporting cast is the film's one saving grace but I found Weixler's character (which is in every scene of the movie) to be highly annoying and depressing.
Weixler plays Jillian, a Stanford law-school dropout who moves back home to Los Angeles to figure out what she wants in life. The film takes place all in one 24-hour period and begins with Jillian getting wasted at a bar one evening (while hanging out with her friends). She's been on a six-month break from her boyfriend and meets a young man, she calls Tex (Eisenberg), who asks her out on a date (but forgets him when she's sober). The next morning she agrees to fill in for her friend Nancy (Feiffer) at her job, running an ice cream truck for the day, so Nancy can go to a family drug intervention for her brother. Jillian spends the day dealing with crazy customers and old friends as she argues with everyone and feels sorry for herself.
I like character driven movies (where nothing really eventful happens) but I have to care about the characters in some way. Jillian here is way too negative and antagonistic (to everyone she meets). While filling in for her friend she probably ruined her business and scared away all the customers! Why should I care what happens to her? In the end she of course comes to some kind of a revelation and seems like she might change but it isn't very convincing and seems tacked on. Her overwhelming cynicism makes the whole movie seem cynical but most of all it's just annoying. I couldn't stand the main character. Eisenberg, Ritter and a few others are likable in the film but their parts are way too brief and underdeveloped. Most of all the movie felt like a film for trolls (all about how trolls live and torment others). I don't want to see a movie like that.
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