Callie Thorne

Robin’s Big Date (2005, James Duffy)

All the Warner Bros. Batman films have, for the most part anyway, avoided the Adam West TV series.

So thank goodness for Robin’s Big Date, which doesn’t just embrace the show, but forces it into “reality.”

The big draw of Big Date is Sam Rockwell playing Batman. Sorry, The Bat-Man. He and Justin Long–as Robin–are in these homemade costumes (watching Rockwell tilt his head to see out the eyeholes is hilarious) and the whole thing feels absurd. Except it’s Rockwell and Long giving these earnest performances of these moronic characters.

Callie Thorne rounds out the principal cast. She does great–even managing to contain her laughter, though one can see it’s a struggle. Oddly, the film’s reality is so “real,” she’s in an abusive relationship and the superheroes can’t do anything to help.

Duffy’s direction is mediocre, but it’s all about the acting and Will Carlough’s writing.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Edited and directed by James Duffy; written by Will Carlough; director of photography, Trish Govoni; released by The Red-headed League.

Starring Sam Rockwell (The Bat-man), Justin Long (Robin), Callie Thorne (Kate), Josh Hamilton (Tony) and Will Carlough (Man).


Nice Guy Johnny (2010, Edward Burns)

I really wanted Nice Guy Johnny to be Ed Burns’s best film. It’s his best made film. His composition of the Hamptons landscapes are singular. The incorporation of PT Walkey’s music is sublime. Burns even uses sped up film (or video) to great effect. If Burns did shoot Johnny on digital video, he and cinematographer William Rexer deserve a standing ovation.

The film is full of these incredibly precious moments–not at all saccharine–but these earnest, precious moments. The performances Burns gets out of newcomer leads Matt Bush and Kerry Bishé are phenomenal. Bush is clearly a talented comedic actor and Burns uses that ability–usually playing Bush off himself (Burns plays Bush’s aging loathario uncle to great effect). But there’s also this intense sadness Bush brings.

Bishé is completely different–I don’t think Burns has trusted one of his actors as much as he trusts Bishé since Brothers McMullen when he didn’t really have a choice. Bush isn’t the stand in for young Burns, it’s more like Bishé is taking that role (a gender reversal of McMullen actually). The result is this serious and thoughtful young woman who is genuinely unlike anything I’m used to seeing in films today.

Nice Guy Johnny reminded me a couple times of The King of Marvin Gardens and Badlands.

Unfortunately, the film only runs ninety minutes. Burns has done great work in that running time before… but Johnny needs more time.

I really hoped Burns would make it home; he almost does.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Written and directed by Edward Burns; director of photography, William Rexer; edited by Janet Gaynor; music by PT Walkley; produced by Aaron Lubin, Burns and Rexer; released by FilmBuff.

Starring Matt Bush (Johnny Rizzo), Kerry Bishé (Brooke), Anna Wood (Claire), Edward Burns (Uncle Terry), Brian Delate (Frank), Marsha Dietlein (Nicole), Michele Harris (Amy), Jay Patterson (Dr. Meadows), Vanessa Ray (Kelly), Callie Thorne (Roseanne) and Max Baker (Caretaker).


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