Friday, September 7, 2012

Now Streaming: Brady Kiernan/Sam Rosen indie gem STUCK BETWEEN STATIONS

TrustMovies is very impressed with Sam Rosen. On the basis of having recently seen him in the new film, The Oranges (to be covered in a week or so) and then again the other night in a movie Rosen stars in and co-wrote (with Nat Bennett) -- STUCK BETWEEN STATIONS -- this guy seems like some kind of chameleon. Even though he doesn't look that different, I had no idea it was the same actor until I checked his bio of the IMDB.  Directed by Brady Kiernan, shown below, the movie is basically a whole lot of talking, accompanied by a lot of walking, interspersed with a few "incidents" that keep the plot a bit taut. But, ah, what talking this is!

Simply a rom-dram about two lost souls -- Casper and Rebecca, played by Rosen and Zoe Lister Jones -- who meet (oddly but not cutely) and then strike up a conversation that leads to something intimate and genuine, the movie never pushes for anything more than credibility. But because its two characters, particularly Casper, are so thoughtful, intelligent and worthwhile, we're eventually hooked and would, I think, follow these two anywhere. Having seen (and disliked) Ms Lister Jones in last year's Breaking Upwards, I am happy to report that not only did I enjoy her performance here, but I found her quite beautiful, too -- and could understand why Rosen's character had such a crush on her in high school.

As director, Mr. Kiernan mostly focuses on his two leads, following them and letting his camera move in on their graceful faces, as they try to connect and understand each other. The camerawork is as graceful as the performances, without giving us viewers any sense that we are intruding or that the camera is unduly pushing (the fine cinematography is by Bo Hakala). This shows the actors up to maximum advantage, while making the movie work beautifully.

Rosen's character is an enlisted man, home briefly from our current war, to bury his estranged father, while Lister Jones plays a young grad student involved with her advisor, whose wife has just found out about the affair. (Michael Imperioli plays the advisor, and his brief screen time is put to good use.)  Other than a not-quite burglary and a bar fight of which we see only the beginning, there's little incident. Yet for those of us who appreciate real characters and dialog so good it seems to hit that rare sweet spot between expert writing and improvisation, this is one swell movie.

Added bonus: Josh Hartnett (above), whom many of us always thought was a better actor than some of his films allowed, has a terrific little role here, as a liberal-unto-criminal friend of Caspar, who enjoys razzing his pal about his military service. Hartnett is aces, as is just about everything and everyone involved in this model independent, which was filmed in Minneapolis, where the story takes place, and in New York City. You can stream it now on Netflix, and elsewhere perhaps.

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