‘Baghead’ is amateurish but shows its quirky side

"Baghead" is better than its Mumblecore-style predecessors, but its quirkiness isn't enough to overc

In the tradition of “The Blair Witch Project” and with a tip of the hat to John Sayles’ “Return of the Secaucus 7,” “Baghead” takes us into the woods with four young adults hoping to settle down and write a screenplay.

Eventually, they will be spooked by a creature with a bag over his head, but that’s after they enter into a bit of romantic intrigue. Matt (Ross Partridge) is hit on by Michelle, played by Greta Gerwig. If Matt takes the hook and beds his little inebriated friend, he will incur the wrath of his on-again, off-again girl of 11 years, Catherine, played by Elise Muller. Let’s not forget Matt’s best friend Chad (Steve Zissis), who has this wicked crush on Michelle.



STARRING Ross Partridge, Elise Muller, Steve Zissis and Greta Gerwig


RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

Written and directed by the Duplass Brothers, Mark and Jay, “Baghead” is the latest entry into the Mumblecore sweepstakes, an American independent film movement that all but boasts about low-budget production, use of hand-held digital cameras and unscripted dialogue. Mumblecore almost always features unknown twentysomething actors

The Duplass Brothers are in the vanguard of that movement.

I must confess that I view this trendy development with skepticism. While it can generate some novel ideas, it can also spew out pretentious garbage like “Blair Witch.” Too often in our culture of disposability, we eagerly embrace anything that is different just because. Just because.

Though it is derivative, “Baghead” is a much finer film than “Blair Witch.” Because it incorporates romantic intrigue into its narrative, this film within a film creates some genuine suspense and tension, even though it begins to outlast its welcome before its 88 minutes elapses.

By calling attention to its spontaneity with out-of-focus shots and a hand-held camera, “Baghead” all but attempts to justify some of its amateurish encounters and dialogue. “This footage is amazing,” says Chad in the last scene. Whoopee! Why not throw in an “awesome” too?

Once more, it seems to me that this whole Mumblecore movement can justify an unpolished, unsophisticated approach as a convenient dodge. “Hey, what do you expect? We don’t have that much loot.”

But I digress.

For what it is or tries to be, “Bag-head” succeeds more than other projects of its ilk. Even if some parts are annoying, its quirkiness can almost win you over.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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