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What a thrill to be the first to give a review of a film that hasn't come out in theaters yet. My girlfriend and I saw this film here in New York at the Buffalo film festival. There's nothing better than getting hit in the face with a funny movie when you weren't expecting much at all. It's hard to describe the exact story line (no spoilers here) because it's one of those character driven films. I relate it to a Seinfeld episode where it's a show "about nothing" but then after watching it, the characters all intertwine and this intense story emerges from all the laughing and horseplay. Very unique and stylish film. M.O.G. Redux has this retro look and feel to it. The poster said it was based in the 90's. It's in the same vein as buddy films like American Graffiti, Diner, Clerks, etc. Guys hanging out, talking shop and getting into trouble. The humor was wild, original and without giving any plot away, the story takes a dramatic turn in a totally different direction. "Sean" and "Jacob" are the main two leads of the four. "Sean" is the womanizer who's quick with his lines and has a little bit of an evil flare to him. He strives to become a recording artist, sings and plays the piano. His friend "Jacob" aspires to become a writer, he's still a virgin and attempts to remedy his situation. The other two friends are "Brent", who always has something clever to say, he's from the southern states and "Ricky", who has gone thru a bad break up and is going heavy on the drugs. There were some very emotional moments. I can recall sitting in the audience laughing my *ss off and then later you could hear a pin drop and the sound of runny noses. (my girlfriend also needed 'that shoulder') But all that aside, this film is funny and very entertaining. I liked the humor because it was believable and not just thrown together out of thin air like a cheap Adam Sandler film. My girlfriend gagged at a few jokes and thought a couple scenes were way over the top, but I thought they were dead on hilarious. By the time it was over it left us with some small debates over some of the meanings and conclusions in the film. It's one of those films that everybody will have their own opinion about, similar to a Kubrick film, where 2 people can see the same movie and get 2 different meanings from it. Hell of a film. It was a redux? We've never heard of the first M.O.G. but after looking it up, found out it was never in theaters nor available on DVD. Congratulations to the hilarious cast and the makers of this film. Great job. We loved it and give you thumbs way up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before the screening of this film, I previewed the trailer to "M.O.G."
(redux) and it didn't really catch my attention other than the moment
when one of the characters started singing. I've always enjoyed movies
that were about music, rock bands or "Fame" concept films. The poster
did intrigue me, "In 1992, Before the Internet..." and "When talking
was still in style" which I think is a great catch phrase for an era
before the Internet and smart phones replaced human contact. So what's
this movie about?
The film "M.O.G." (redux), written and directed by new comer Darryl Abbinante, is a buddy film based on a true story set in 1992, framed in a north east Los Angeles Latino community. Sean, Jacob, Brent and Ricky, four blue collar young adults with no resources, no flash, no education, but all with plenty of heart. Sean (Sean Durrie) has the personality of the obnoxious woman chasing "know it all" having no problem expressing himself or giving his sexist advise. He might be easily disliked, but charms the screen with his singing (nice voice) and piano playing. He is countered by his friend Jacob (Jed Reynolds) who is very likable and comically amusing. Still a virgin, his innocence and lack of social expertise gives his character a safe and charming presence. The 2 leads seem to effortlessly bounce their opinions and theories of life off each other as they are the Ying & Yang of this film. Ricky (Rudy Nunez) is their hot headed Meth addicted friend who has recently been dumped by his girlfriend. He harbors a great deal of pain and appears to be the black sheep of the four. Brent (Chris Giuffria) is a fresh faced southern boy who has been injected into the inner city in his youth. He's the neutral gentleman of the group with his quick and sometimes abnormal wit.
The story follows the four hanging out, running errands, smoking grass and experiencing some wild and comedic night time activities in search of women. After an irreverent bull session reminiscing about their late night activities, including a one night stand for Sean with his frivolous Latin love interest "Lupe" and a hilarious intimate moment with Jacob and his pot smoking whiskey shooting gal pal, the film evolves as events take on a darker emotional onset. Jacob and Brent go on a "pot run" which turns out to be a large mistake and Sean gets physically attacked during the theft of his motorcycle. The assault on Sean (a fist punch to his throat) abruptly ends his dreams of becoming a singer. Intertwined within the story is the frequent appearance of an old homeless man which lends itself to a sensitive realization. Since seeing this film, it's changed my views on homeless people.
It's a roller coaster of intelligent and sometimes childish humor combined with moments of realistic drama. Some of the comedic bits are racially motivated, but not racist. A few others are on the fringe of humor but add to the shock value most new comedies need today to get the attention of a youthful audience. The dialog is the back bone of this feature as it's written well to fit the ages of the characters. Conversations are heavy at times but flow like a well oiled machine. There is drug use in the film, marijuana and features an LSD trip that the likes of which I have never seen in any motion picture to date. Unlike the guru of all drug films: "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" the LSD trip in "M.O.G." captures the true essence of "the trip" by replacing over bearing visual effects with drug induced conversations and emotions that bend the viewer into a direct connection with the performances on the screen. It's a segment of the film that defines the relationships between the four. Terrific performances by what appears to be an almost unknown cast of new actors.
M.O.G. has a interesting and subtle sound track. Being a film based in 90's I imaged it would've been layered with songs from that era, but refreshingly this film is not a 90's music video. The sound track is mainly jazz, classical and some interesting Latin music tossed into the mix. Sean sings two original ballads in the film, (excerpts) from behind his electric piano that are tasteful and heartfelt.
Some technical notes: I'm not sure if the film's "look" is intentional or simply lacks proper color correction. Hard to say without speaking to the filmmaker. It does have a certain style and a homemade reality look to it, which may be the intention of the filmmaker. Most of the films we receive at our film festival are all starting to look alike so it's nice to see a filmmaker shoot in a different format that gives the film a unique look and feeling. The editing of the film is very creative and shows a great deal of artistic technique. Very well paced and executed.
This is one of the most original Independent comedy films I have screened years. On a personal note, I was very entertained and moved by the story.
I gave this film a well deserved 8/10 on my Independent movie scale.
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