Wednesday, February 26, 2014

On VOD, an original: Don Swaynos' quirky, jerky (as in full-of-jerks) PICTURES OF SUPERHEROES

One of the odd pleasures of writing about film is that you never know how one good movie may lead you to another. Case in point: Earlier this month, TrustMovies covered and very much enjoyed Bryan Poyser's Austin-based rom-com Love & Air Sex, which, though TM didn't know it at the time, was edited, and very well, by a fellow named Don Swaynos. After that post was published, Mr. Swaynos got in touch with TM, asking if he might want to watch Swaynos' first full-length narrative film, PICTURES OF SUPERHEROES, which only recently made its VODebut. Turns out that Swaynos also edited Pit Stop (click the link and scroll down), another recent film that TM enjoyed quite a bit. So, yes, I agreed: Bring it on, and let's see what transpires.

What transpires is... something else. This is one inspired, bizarre, quirky movie that is filled with, uh, males jerks (hence my rather unusual use of the adjectival form in the headline above) who surround a very put-upon female, the result of which is one original movie. Swaynos, shown at right, has given us one of the most sheerly odd films I've ever seen. And yet it is accessible. Sort of. This "almost accessibility" is what makes the movie so much fun. It is coming from a place of reality, an alternate universe if you will, but a jumping-off point from which most of us can observe and perhaps begin to identify.

Our heroine Marie, quietly but very fetchingly played by Kerri Lendo (above), works as a maid. However, Marie, who has just been fired, appears to have also recently learned that the crew of maids she works with is actually a ring of prostitutes. That she herself has not been included in this ring and has been used only for cleaning purposes is apparently due to her somewhat plain-Jane looks and rather sour attitude.

On this same day of sudden unemployment, Marie is also dumped by her utterly self-involved boyfriend, Phil (Byron Brown, caricatured on the poster at left, with one of his best lines of dialog shown at top).

As Marie goes off to hunt down some new job, she is almost immediately spied by a fellow who of course needs a cleaning woman and so asks/demands/begs Marie to come work for him. Just like that? Exactly. This is a movie, after all, so what's a poor, unemployed, recently dumped damsel to do? You got it.

Marie's "work" leads her to one bizarre character after another -- begin-ning with this new employer, Eric, played like nothing you've will have seen by Shannon McCormack (shown above), moving on to one of Eric's clients, a "money man" (Sonny Carl Davis) intent on reliving a scene from a certain Demi Moore movie. Unfortunately he has the wrong movie.

We also meet Eric's "surprise" roommate Joe (John Merriman, above, right, with Ms Lendo), a sort of big-baby/man who insists that "candy is better than vegetables." There's a meet-the-parents moment that is one for the books, a bizarre kind of "celebrity roast," and a scene in which a character goes homicidal in an almost kindly but bizarre fashion. The movie gives that old saying, "We're all connected" quite new meaning.

But how and why are we connected? After awhile you'll begin to wonder just what Mr. Swaynos is trying to say. Is this movie about the world of work -- or, yikes, Capitalism (be very afraid, Kyle Smith!) -- as it sometimes appears: a reflection of the absolute meaningless-ness of modern living? There is this absolutely strange and wonderful image of  liquids -- coke, coffee -- being poured onto a floor simply to dirty it up. This is repeated often enough to become a kind of major refrain and/or clue.

The film is also about the human need (expressed here mostly by the males) to have life the way we want it, no matter what. The bits of dialog seen on these posters (above and below, and all designed by Pit Stop filmmaker Yen Tan) seem to indicate the primacy of this need, no matter how crazy the result may be.

Is the movie anti-men? The jerks here are all male, for sure, and yet their jerkiness is so thorough that it does not seem to benefit them one whit. The film's title, too, is ironic as hell. Do we want, or ever need "meaning" here? I don't know. But I do know that Pictures of Superheroes is a genuine American independent, not popped from any ready-made-mold that you'll be able to easily reference. It is uber-quirky but also very funny. Which makes it a must-see of sorts.

The movie, from Jollyville Pictures and running just 70 minutes, is available now for purchase or rental via the VOD and streaming sources found here. And although Netflix is not as yet among this group, I hope it will be soon. Or eventually.

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