J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mumbling Memphis: Open Five

“Mumblecore” is a hipster term for slow and meandering. Sure, one can argue John Cassavetes was a forerunner of the Mumblecore school of largely improvised zero-budget twenty-nothing relationship films, but there seems to be a pernicious tendency towards navel-gazing in the sub-culture sub-genre. At least Kentucker Audley’s Open Five (trailer here) earns points for industriousness and generosity, as it begins a week of free screenings (or $3 for advance tickets) today at the reRun/Gastropub in the County of Kings.

Since women in New York are crazy about men with unkempt beards, baseball caps, and cut-off jeans, musician Jake has no problem convincing BKLN-based actress Lucy to visit him in Memphis. However, at this last minute she decides to bring along her friend Rose. Fortunately, she immediately falls in with Jake’s friend Kentucker, who just happens to be a filmmaker. For nearly the balance of the film, we watch as these two would-be couples warily circle around each other.

Shot on a poor man’s shoe-string budget, it is hard to bag on Open, because it is such a self-starting, self-reliant enterprise. Still, would it kill them to, you know, do something? After all, they scratched together the cast and crew, so why not make a movie?

Of course, great films can be made about ostensibly small, idiosyncratic subjects. Indeed, the film begins to take flight somewhat when the guys give their guests a jaundiced hipster’s eye tour of the Memphis music scene. This is a subject they can riff on convincingly. Unfortunately, in an effort to sound “real” most of their relationship dialogue comes across as rather dull instead.

Kentucker Audley’s name is awesome. As actors, he and Jake Rabinbach are more-or-less convincing sort of-kind of playing themselves. Shannon Esper and Genevieve Angelson should be out of their leagues, but they do their best to make the not quite relationships credible. Yet, it just never goes anywhere.

Open is about as independent as it gets, but it takes itself far too seriously. Still, give Audley and Rabinbach credit for bringing their film in, on-time and on-micro-budget. It is also short (67 minutes) and free starting today (11/26) at the reRun/Gastropub in Brooklyn, so those so inclined will not have to make much of an investment to satisfy their curiosity.

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