Eugene Weekly : Movies : 9.18.08


Art Imitates Something
by Molly Templeton

BAGHEAD: Written, produced and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass. Music, J. Scott Howard. Starring Greta Gerwig, Steve Zissis, Ross Partridge and Elise Muller. Sony Pictures Classics, 2008. R. 84 minutes.

Steve Zissis, Elise Muller and Greta Gerwig in Baghead

After Andrew Bujalski’s charming, low-key Mutual Appreciation, I thought I was in favor of “mumblecore,” the too-cutely named mini-genre of lo-fi, low-budget, talky indie flicks about twentysomething uncertainty. But between last year’s trying Hannah Takes the Stairs and now Baghead, the appeal is wearing thin. Both films star Greta Gerwig as a variant on what The Onion’s A/V Club dubbed the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she’s the Vapid Pixie Dream Girl Next Door, oblivious and self-centered and dissatisfied. In Baghead, she and three fellow actor friends — schlumpy Chad (Steve Zissis), who’s in love with Gerwig’s Michelle; alpha-male Matt (Ross Partridge), who has “Elvis hair” and is the most likable of the lot; and too-tan, too-blonde Catherine (Elise Muller) — take in a pretentious indie flick at an L.A. festival. Inspired (in a way), they decide to spend the weekend writing a better movie that, naturally, includes a role for each of them. The movie they consider writing is reflected in the movie we’re watching: Baghead is first an indie relationship flick, then a (sorta) horror flick about a guy with a bag on his head. The bag-wearing person is half scary and half absurd, and the film’s denouement is unsurprising; Baghead almost recognizes the tensions between creative work and life, but in the end that feels like too heavy a thought for such a slight semi-spoof of a film.  Baghead opens Friday, Sept. 19, at the Bijou. 


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