Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sundance ’16: Trash Fire
Owen is so screwed up, it must be his
family’s fault. As part of her tough love regimen, his exasperated girlfriend
insists he reconcile with his grandmother Violet and sister Pearl, his only
surviving blood relations. Then she meets them. They are in for some decidedly
awkward family meals in Richard Bates, Jr.’s Trash Fire, which
screens during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Owen hates himself, hates his shrink, and
most of all he hates his family. He loves Isabel, but he has a hard time
showing it. In fact, he has a habit of saying crass, hurtful things. His
boorish, boozy rudeness has alienated Isabel from her friends and family, but
Owen vows to turn over a new leaf when she announces her pregnancy. Part of his
mission is a family reunion, but the flashes of demonic imagery that accompany
his epileptic seizures suggest that might not be such a good idea.
If you think Owen is obnoxious, wait till
you get a load of Grandma. However, you will have to wait to meet the reclusive
Pearl. Due to her extensive burn injuries, she avoids most human contact.
Grandmama fooled Owen into believing it was his fault, but it was really her
doing. Yes, she is your basic delusional, psychotic judgmental Fundamentalists.
You know, one of those.
There is actually very little genre
business in the first half, but it features the crudest, snippiest, most
caustic dialogue you will ever hear in a months of Sundays. Obviously, that is
a good thing. It certainly makes Trash
Fire distinctive. In fact, it sort of a letdown when Violet starts
following her divine homicidal inclinations. The super-Christian stereotype is
also more than a little tiresome. Really, we needed another one of those?
Still, Adrian Grenier’s Owen is just
spectacularly messed up. The bile he dredges up is quite impressive. To her
credit, Angela Trimbur hangs with Grenier quite well, developing some
emasculating chemistry. Watching them tear into each is just good cinema.
a conventional V.C. Andrews-on-crack third act, Trash Fire delivers a lot of blackly comic fun. Bates has a seriously
twisted ear for dialogue and he also now holds the distinction of being the
only filmmaker to propose during a post-screening Q&A (she said yes).
Recommended for fans of macabre, take-no-prisoners comedy, Trash Fire screens this Friday (1/29) in Park City and Saturday
(1/30) in Salt Lake, as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Labels: Horror Movies, Sundance '16