Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shawn Piller & Scott Lew's SEXY EVIL GENIUS -- a well-written/-directed/-acted hoot-and-a-half

One of those little movies that go straight-to-DVD (in April 2013) and that consequently rush right by you, SEXY EVIL GENIUS (and who can resist finding out a little more about a title this upfront?) may just be the oddball streaming evening you've been craving. It's alternately funny, creepy, silly and surprising, written and directed with skill and just the right amount of reticence to keep you watching, and then cast and acted with equal aplomb.And now it's yours to peruse via Netflix streaming.

As directed by Shawn Piller (shown at right and new to me) and written by Scott Lew (who earlier gave us a hugely under-rated delight called Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas (find it and watch!), the movie, because it is mostly set in a single location (a little dive bar in L.A.) looks like it might have been based on a stage play. But, no -- evidently not. In any case, it is not stage bound. It works just fine as a sharp, funny comedy about.... what? The poster notes that "Revenge is a bitch," but that's not nearly the whole of it. Within the first few minutes, the plot begins to come clear: A young woman named Nikki (no, not Finke) has invited several of her former lovers -- men and a woman -- to this little get-together, though she herself has yet to put in an appearance.

The build-up is very nice. We first meet the slightly nebbishy  Zachary (Seth Green) and then very hot Miranda (Michelle Trachtendberg). They are soon joined by jazz band man Marvin (Harold Perrineau), and finally by Nikki and her latest boyfriend, a somewhat sleazy lawyer named Bert (William Baldwin).

Nikki herself, a very long-time coming, is played by Katee Sackhoff (above, right, and below), whom I have seen a few times, I guess, but never really noticed before. Ms Sackhoff co-produced the movie -- a smart move, considering that it gives her quite the plum role, which she handle well enough. However, because Nikki takes such a long time to appear here, and as described by the other characters sounds like an incredible and beautiful femme fatale, we're maybe expecting someone like a 1940s "noir" anti-heroine possessed of the beauty of a young Elizabeth Taylor.

That's a lot to live up to, and Ms Sackhoff doesn't quite make it (who could?), though she is, as they say, close enough for jazz. She make Nikki strong, smart, pretty and just a little crazy, too. No wonder her exes (and we, as well) are ever on guard. Try as you might to guess what's going on, you probably won't figure out all of it. Which should just add to your fun.

The movie is available now via Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video and on DVD.-- for purchase or rental.

No comments: