07/15/15 7:36am
07/15/2015 7:36 AM |
Photo Courtesy of The Film Arcade

Directed by Kris Swanberg
Opens July 24 at Village East Cinemas

The image of a pretty young woman sitting on a toilet is an indie film cliché. In Kris Swanberg’s Unexpected, such a scene comes early: our protagonist, Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) takes a pregnancy test which turns out to be positive, providing the foundation of the story. Samantha is a teacher at an inner-city Chicago high school on the brink of closure, and she quickly learns that one of her best students, Jasmine (Gail Bean), is also pregnant. Both decide to keep their babies and an unlikely bond is formed.


05/20/15 8:39am
05/20/2015 8:39 AM |
photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Directed by Andrew Bujalski
Opens May 29 at IFC Center

Like lazy, looping boomerangs that never quite make it back, Andrew Bujalski’s films routinely take a gamble on desultory paths, living with his characters but never wanting to impose. Primarily concerning two trainers and a schlub, Results continues that illusory insouciance, as unconcerned as its deviously witty title is targeted, but significantly it’s also Bujalski’s first work starring two established actors rather than the moonlighting postgrads and postpostgrads his usual casts resemble.

Starting off with a spring in its step, the Austin-set comedy shuffles among Danny (Kevin Corrigan), an ornery trainer named Kat (Cobie Smulders), and Trevor (Guy Pearce), for whom she works. This might be thirteen years after Funny Ha Ha, with people supposedly further along in life, but the aimlessness still obtains, as does the variability. Playing divorced Danny, who inherits a pile of money and has zero idea what to do next, or how to do it, Corrigan flourishes; Guy Pearce has the ready-made fit-and-upbeat look of a trainer with a program to market—namely, his character, Trevor—but never quite finds his footing.

Lanky, bright-eyed, and ever a step away from calling people on shit, Kat is given an appealing unpredictability by Smulders (who reminded me of a rising French actress, Adèle Haenel, in a film also being released this month as, awkwardly, Love at First Fight). But Results rises and falls with Corrigan’s hilarious performance as a sad-sack with some fight in him, and the money to buy weed and distractions and dinner, if not quite able to stick to the regimen prescribed by Kat, whom he predictably lusts after. Corrigan’s been a personal favorite since an earlier era of indies, and despite sometimes being treated elsewhere as a character on the periphery, here he gives a command performance of marvelous subtlety and comic timing, and not a little pathos.

Corrigan’s slow-burn consternation in this film never fails, on par with the greats, and when the story renews itself with a fresh focus on Kat and Trevor, it’s a bit of a letdown, not least because the two actors never seem to mesh. But just for giving Corrigan free rein, Results gets… itself.