J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Slamdance ’14: I Put a Hit on You

Anyone who has read Jack London’s Assassination Bureau or seen Bulworth knows there are some contracts you cannot cancel.  Unfortunately, if a spurned woman was familiar with them (or the dozens of thematically similar books and movies), she is too drunk to remember when venting online about her decidedly not-fiancé.  This leads to trouble in Dane Clark & Linsey Stewart’s I Put a Hit on You (trailer here), which screens during the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City.

When the thoroughly type-A Harper pops the question to the more laidback Ray, you could say he reacts rather badly.  Badly stung, she retreats into a bottle of wine and starts fooling around on Craig’s List (or a generic proxy).  When she comes to, she realizes she has struck a bargain with some creepy netizen to kill Ray in exchange for her engagement ring.  In a panic, she races to Ray’s flat for a series of increasingly awkward conversations.

IPAHOY is one of those economical films, whose titles also serve as synopses.  Essentially, it is also a two-hander, primarily shot in two locations. Granted, it is shrewdly assembled from a budgetary perspective, but there is no getting around its inherent staginess. Since we never really see much of the mysterious outsider, the film necessarily consists mostly of Harper and Ray bickering and bantering.

As Harper and Ray (who sound like a publishing company), Sara Canning and Aaron Ashmore have an okay screen rapport, but there’s nothing here you would consider movie magic. Still, they are quite believable as a functionally dysfunctional couple.

It might sound forced, but the drunken Craigslisting premise is surprisingly easy to buy into and it sets-up some moderately amusing lines throughout the film.  Frankly, everything about the film is modest and small in scope.  Mostly pleasant but wafer thin, it is not a film you will long carry in your subconscious.  Hardly a festival priority, I Put a Hit on You will probably still draw interest as a “safe” choice for older, more conventional audiences when it screens again tomorrow (1/20) as part of this year’s Slamdance.

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