Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A connection between violence and art? You jest. As does Boris Rodriguez's goofy EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL-- plus a fun little Q&A with the filmmaker

A hoot, a goof and a lark about art -- and its sometimes neces-sary attraction to vio-lence for its inspiration -- the new "horror" film EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL has a lot of fun with its premise, beginning with the black-screen opening that features the mellifluous tones of a radio broadcaster (think NPR, or whatever is the Canadian version of same) as he speaks about a gorgeous opera aria, explaining the ghastly plot circumstances surrounding that sterling piece of music and song. Our announcer returns again and again throughout the movie, his each example of a different opera growing loonier but no less truthful.

Writer/director Boris Rodriguez, shown at right, has set his film in a down-on-its-luck art school, to which has come as a new teacher an also down-on-his-luck artist (Keep the Lights On's Thure Lindhardt, below), who made an artistic splash some time back but has created zilch since then. By some very manipulative plot machinations -- but as this is definitely a horror-comedy-satire, the coinci-dences and happenstance are on display to be appreciated rather than reviled -- our hero gets saddled with the care and feeding of the title charac-ter, a mute, overgrown, aging child/man who couldn't be sweeter -- except at night.

Mr. Rodriguez and his game cast achieve very nearly the perfect tone for all this: wide-eyed with wonder and belief, and everyone just a little dimmer than real life might demand. This enables us to genuinely giggle at the gross-outs, which, in any case, are not really that awful (the filmmaker has a relatively light touch here, too: things could have been much worse).

We get the necessary love story -- Georgina Reilly, above, plays another teacher at the school -- and police investigation (a funny, officious Paul Braunstein, below, plays the local cop), while the wonderful Stephen McHattie (of Pontypool) acts the art agent for whom commission tops all. The artwork (Lindhardt's paintings and Reilly's sculpture) are shown but barely, with the camera moving too fast for us to ascertain quality: a smart move, I think. The stuff looks like it might be quite good, but we really haven't the time to dwell and tell.

In the title role, an actor named Dylan Smith, below and at bottom, whom I've seen numerous times without having him register, does so here. In spades. Smith brings just the right combo of beef and brawn, sadness and charm to the role so that Eddie becomes the real hero of the film.

TrustMovies does not want to make too much of this little toss-up. (Fortunately, Mr. Rodriguez himself seems not to have any high pretensions, either.) It lasts but 79 minutes-plus-credits, never wears out its welcome, and gives its single theme/idea a smart and deserving work-out.

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal is the first release from Doppelgänger Releasing, a new subsidiary of Music Box Films -- which, if it brings to genre films the same taste level that its mother company brings to art films, means that we're in for some treats. Eddie opens this Friday, April 5, in New York City, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Chicago and Atlanta -- with Denver following next Friday, April 12. Click here, and then click on THEATERS in the task bar halfway down the screen to see all currently scheduled theaters and cities. Note to Couch Potatoes: the movie is releasing simultaneously via VOD.

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TrustMovies contacted Boris Rodriguez (shown below) via email to ask him but three questions. His answers are well put and terrific fun. Below, TM Appears in boldface, Rodriguez in standard type.

 
We really enjoyed your film a lot -- especially your very interesting, humorous and pointed “take” on violence in art, with special attention to painting and to opera (those radio bits were dry and hilarious—and so true!). Was this notion the guiding force behind the movie, or was it something that just came about as you were initially writing the script?

Violence in art became a guiding notion as we toiled through endless re-writes, for sure, but it wasn't it necessarily present as a theme at the outset. When John Rannells first pitched me the idea of a mentally-challenged werewolf and a novelist, he was more focused on doing something outlandish and totally off the hook. But as we fleshed out the characters and the plot, we found ourselves drawing on certain classic themes such as, do artists need to suffer in order to create their greatest work? or, how far would you go for your art? The opera references came in late in the process. At first, I was looking at country music for the film's score because of country's often really depressing lyrics. But one of our producers tried some classical music as a placeholder in a scene and I was surprised by how well it fit the film - opera sounded even better. I didn't know much about opera and started to look at different operas that might have violent storylines so that the radio host in the film could comment on them and stay on theme. Holy crap! Opera turned out to be a veritable gold mine of horror and violence! Virtually every opera is incredibly violent and bloody. I was so happy!

What you do with this idea – bringing it simultaneously to life and death -- is unusual, to say the least. I and my readers would appreciate it if you’d talk about this a bit, as it makes your movie unique and funny and very bizarre.

Anyone who has ever reached an audience with their creativity, enjoyed the process and gotten a positive response knows how addictive that can be. It's a high like no other and you get hooked on it. And like all addictions, the process of feeding that high can quickly become destructive. Anybody who dedicates themselves fully to something can do so at the expense of other things in their lives - relationships, love, even physical health can suffer when we become obsessed. That's a big part of Lars's character, the destructive nature of his addiction. But unlike most artists who limit that destruction to their own lives, Lars takes some liberties - and through his increasingly skewered reasoning - the death of a few innocents is well worth the price of some good art. I don't agree with him, for the record...

What’s next for you? 

I'm definitely doing another horror comedy, for sure. Horror fans are the most open-minded, supportive and enthusiastic fan base out there. They encourage originality and risk-taking. That alone is reason enough for me to make a film for that fan base. I'm looking at a killer chimp script right now. Laboratory surviving chimpanzees brutalize and murder unsuspecting adolescents at a summer camp. It's hilarious! But I'm also writing a psychological thriller about a Mexican miner who loses his job and teams up with some corrupt detectives to kidnap the foreign owner of the company. Topical, edge-of-your-seat and thought-provoking action drama. It's called Cobarde and it just got selected for Tribeca Film Institute's All Access Program. I'm psyched.

Thanks to Mr. Rodriguez for these intelligent, thoughtful and funny answers.  But one more thing: That idea of a novelist and a mentally-challenged werewolf does sound like a lot of fun, so maybe Rodriguez or Mr. Rannells could go back to the drawing board and finish that script...

2 comments:

Allison said...

This is cool!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Allison. Actually, I think this is one of my better posts, overall. But the movie itself is really cool, too. Try to see it -- if you haven't already!