Monday, March 16

Considering "Fix"

Seeing a movie is an experience mediated by the environment in which it is seen. Popping in a DVD at home and tucking into the couch with someone you love on a Friday night is a completely different experience from balancing a laptop on your knees during a trans-Atlantic flight and watching some low-quality rip you downloaded is a completely different experience from heading to a midnight release with all the cosplayers. With this in mind, Fix may very well have been the best movie experience I had for the entirety of the Spokane International Film Festival. Not to take anything way from Fix but Revanche is a better film and Kirschblüten - Hanami gives it a good run for its movey. But those films weren't screened in the the Magic Lantern Theatre which has no more than 50 seats and their directors weren't in attendance. Pair that experience with two shorts, one produced completely in Spokane and the other a hilarious piece about some potheads trying to get their dignity back after being robbed and pistol whipped, and Fix was the best time I had at the movies so far this year.

It's really unfortunate that no major distributors picked this up for a nationwide run, but I imagine their marketing departments are thanking them for that. Fix simply cannot be encapsulated in a two-and-a-half-minute trailer there is so much packed into its 93-minute run time. It's a comedy of characters and personalities. It's a drama about the relationship between brothers and depicts drug use as honestly as possible. It's a madcap adventure which propels its heroic trio, the felon Leo, his brother Milo and Milo's girlfriend Bella, all across Los Angeles from Beverly Hills to Venice Beach to Watts in search of $5000 to pay for Leo's upcoming rehab stint and to keep him out of a three-year prison sentence. Focusing on just one of these elements would exhuast a trailer, but it wouldn't honestly present Fix. Try and bring them all in, and no one will know what to make of it.

There is a lot to endear Fix (it's amazing soundtrack and rich, saturated color palette rank especially high for me), but this movie is carried all the way on the strength of its actors and actresses across the board. Shawn Andrews, as Leo, obviously, and most deservedly, gets the greatest attention and credit. He has the most screentime and makes the most of it, charismatic and desperate as the situation demands it and never less than engaging. It's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role or capturing his kinetic portrayal without the handheld camera. By no means, however, does this discount the efforts of any others in this film. Olivia Wilde's Bella and director Tao Ruspoli's Milo are perfect, understated foils to Leo. They're grounded and still keep pace with Andrews without falling into the temptation of overacting to match the him. The many, many supporting characters are more than adequate, too. The bored housewife of a Hollywood producer, the eccentric trust fund kid with delusions of boxing, the cultured chop shop owner, and the lawyer who could out insane Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder are brilliant in their own ways, and I wish they all could have had twice the screentime they received.

The real joy, though, was when Tao Ruspoli, the director, came out for questions at the end. With tact and remarkable patience he put up with a woman who wouldn't stop trying to convince him to set his next film in Spokane. He spoke about his relationship with his brother and the personal inspiration for Fix. When I asked what it was like to work with Olivia Wilde before she was cast in the lead role for Tron 2.0 and "made it," he said they were married. Cool guy. Very cool. I shook his hand afterward. At the end of the festival, it was announced that he had received the award Most Promising Filmmaker. I hope the people who own studios realize this and begin pouring funding his way, actually get him some national distribution. I want to see what else this guy can do.

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