Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Big News from Grand Rock: Journalism Up North
Crane is like the Jayson Blair of provincial Canada, except he meant well.
Desperate to keep his small town newspaper in business, Crane starts cribbing
human interest stories from the movies. Unfortunately, things get a little out
of hand when he raises the stakes with an expose. There might just be a big
story out there in Daniel Perlmutter’s Big
News from Grand Rock (trailer
which opens today in Canada.
can pretty much tell from the staff meeting why readership is woefully down at
the Weekly Ledger when the deep
voiced Ted Baxter-ish Bill pitches a story about a local woman who bought a
lottery ticket. No, it hasn’t won—yet. It is a pretty sleepy hamlet, so it
might be a pleasant place to live (aside from the potholes), but it sure is
hard to drum up news copy. When the longtime owner announces his intention to
sell, Crane does his best to woo back advertisers. Out of desperation, he
rewrites the Bill Murray elephant movie Larger
than Life as local interest story. It is a safe film to start with, because
who would admit to watching it?
keep the flow of reader-friendly stories coming, Crane seeks out
recommendations from a willingly complicit video store clerk. However, when he
pushes Barbet Schroeder’s medical thriller Desperate
Measures on Crane, the resulting expose proves too sensational, attracting
a reporter from a relatively big city to confirm his allegations of secret cloning
experiments conducted by a shadowy cult. Yet, just when he faces exposure and
ostracism as a fraud, mysterious events start to suggest he might have
accidentally stumbled onto something after all.
Big News is a low key comedy,
but the humor is considerable and admirably consistent. There are a lot of very
clever lines, but the way Perlmutter and his leads master the rhythm of their
dialogue for laughs is particularly effective. For some of their exchanges, you
can almost imagine Perlmutter was drilling them with a stopwatch, Howard
Crane, Ennis Esmer deftly walks a comedic tightrope, often serving as a straight
man during most of his scenes, but then perfectly delivering the understated
kicker that pays off all the set-up. Aaron Ashmore and Peter Keleghan are
terrific wild cards playing off Esmer as his video co-conspirator and the
clueless reporter (to use the job title generously). The awkward chemistry
between him and Meredith MacNeill as out of town journalist also works quite
effectively in the context of the film.
Granted, Perlmutter started with a promising
premise, but the intangibles of the well-turned phrases and the natural,
unforced feel of the riffing really distinguishes it from the field. Frankly, Big News from Grand Rock is too good not
to find some sort of distribution here in America, but if you happen to be in
Toronto, by all means, drop by the Carlton Cinema, where it opens today (2/27).
Labels: Canadian Cinema, The media on film