with the rise of digital technology, you still need some expertise to make a credible
film. However, with the advent of crowd-funding, any joker with a paypal
account can buy a producer’s credit. Herbert Blount is one such donor, but he
will take it upon himself to finish a troubled serial killer thriller. He’ll
finish it alright. Viewers will see his final absolutely-not-studio-approved
edit and hear his commentary in Adam Rifkin’s Director’s Cut (promo here), which screened at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival.
the opening credits roll, Blount explains why Adam Rifkin’s Knock Off was initially poorly received
by audiences and critics—not enough Missi Pyle. Blount clearly has a thing for
Pyle that will become increasingly problematic as he starts to chronicle the
behind-the-scenes chaos. He will even splice some of it in for our viewing benefit.
After all, as the top crowd-funder, he bought the rights to be the making-of
Hamlin co-stars with Pyle as himself, Harry Hamlin, playing the misogynistic, compulsively
vaping police detective Godfrey “God” Winters. Blount is convinced Hamlin is Knock Off’s weak link and he might be
right in that limited respect. As the FBI profiler, Pyle must work with the sleazy
Hamlin and Hayes McArthur playing himself playing Winters’ partner Reed. In the
film, they are directed by the harried Adam Rifkin, while in the film-with-the-film,
they are bossed around by their lieutenant, played by Lin Shaye, in an inspired
bit of casting.
ten minutes into the film, Blount gives us a strong indication he is a bit off
the rails when he installs spy cameras in Pyle’s room. Of course, his behavior
will only get more erratic. Just for the record, Director’s Cut was itself crowd-funded, but it sure doesn’t seem to
think much of the practice. Whether it be Blount invading Pyle’s space or
Rifkin mailing out t-shirts, the film just doesn’t make fundraising strategy
look like it is worth the hassles.
have to give Hamlin and his wife Lisa Rinna credit for poking fun at their
celebrity images. However, nobody is a better sport than Pyle, who soldiers
through all sorts of embarrassing situations and allows the film to remind the
world she was in A Haunted House 2,
with Hayes McArthur. Rifkin shows some nice comedic timing of his own. Yet,
Penn Jillette dominates every second with his in-character, relentlessly un-self-aware
narration and his larger-than-life, uncharacteristically unsettling presence.
we have heard Teller talk here and there, but his whacked-out speaking cameo in
Director’s Cut will be absolute
catnip for Penn & Teller fans. It is consistently amusing, in an awkwardly creepy
sort of way, but Tim Kirk’s conceptually similar Director’s Commentary—Terror of Frankenstein creates a richer, more
subversive secret history for its ostensive meta-text-film. Anyone who has seen
& Teller Get Killed knows
Jillette is the sort to go for broke on the big screen—and Director’s Cut is no exception. It is funny and sometimes
acerbically insightful, but Rifkin and Jillette get a bit bogged down during
the endgame. Still, whenever this much self-referential humor is offered in
such questionable taste, no self-respecting cult film fan should pass it up. Recommended
for fans of Penn & Teller and the films of Kirk & Rodney Ascher, Director’s Cut just had its world
premiere last night at this year’s Slandance in Park City, Utah.
Labels: Films within films, Penn Jillette, Slamdance '16