Monday, April 09, 2012

Losing Control

Let's start with the standard Horrible Q&A Photography before getting to the fun stuff:

Valerie Weiss Q&A, Valerie Weiss doing Q&A after "Losing Control"

Okay, not much to see here - writer/director answering questions, house lights don't go up enough, white screen and black outfit probably mess with my camera phone as much as anything. Pretty standard stuff. Sure, she answered questions like a great sport, but the really important image to remember is this one:

Valerie Weiss selling "Losing Control", "Losing Control" writer/director Valerie Weiss pitching her film to Kendall Square moviegoers.

That's Ms. Dr. Weiss standing by the line to buy a ticket on Sunday night, asking if folks were there to see Losing Control, and saying, hey, they should, it's funny and the other movie that they might have been coming to see will still be there tomorrow, but this was the last time she was going to be there to do a questions & answers session afterward, and you wouldn't want to miss that opportunity, would you?

I've gone to more than the occasional screening with a Q&A, and by and large, they're only for selected shows and the filmmaker is sort of kept off to the side until it's time for the introduction. From what I could see of the signage outside the theater and what was posted on the movie's Twitter account, she did this all weekend, from the 11am show to the 9:40pm one, and then went across the way to Tommy Doyle's (which had Losing Control-themed drinks on the menu) to hang out with the audience some more.

And she was still full of energy and enthusiasm as I made my way in to the movie, telling folks at the concession stand that she'd try to stall a little so they'd have time to get in for the start, because the start is really good. By my count, that's like a dozen shows in three days' time. You just don't see that very often - by the time an independent film like this hits theaters, the director is a couple years away from making it and her mind is halfway to the next thing - and it really left no doubt that this movie was her personality coming out on screen.

From the Q&A, it seemed to work for them - I gather only Jiro Dreams of Sushi did better at the theater since Friday - and the movie will likely get to hang around another week, maybe get some good word-of-mouth, and open in more cities as a result. Here's hoping, it's a fun little movie, the folks involved seem pretty nice, and I kind of love that it's a "women doing science" movie without making that a plot point.

I'd also be kind of curious how some of the Boston stuff plays elsewhere. There's only a few really local bits (especially since most of the movie was filmed in L.A.), but the duckboats and the hat that may only help you in Brookline made me laugh.

Losing Control

* * * (out of four)
Seen 8 April 2012 in Landmark Kendall Square #4 (first-run, digital?)

I try not to get too worked up about science in movies, but given that Losing Control is about a scientist trying to apply the scientific method to her personal life and the title is a pun that you kind of need to know a little bit of science to appreciate... Well, shouldn't inconsistent results in the control group of her experiment have been a bigger issue? Sure, a chunk of the audience won't care, and probably shouldn't. They will likely just find this an entertainingly off-beat movie, and it's pretty successful on that count.

The young scientist whose experiments are having the wonky results, preventing her from finishing her Ph.D, is Samantha (Miranda Kent); for some reason, whenever it's time to present her spermicide that only targets sperm carrying a Y-chromosome, the control group is unusable, and the ability to reproduce is making her question everything. This includes her five-year relationship with boyfriend Ben (Reid Scott), so while he is on a fellowship in China, she sets out to prove that he's the one empirically - by testing a larger sample, so to speak.

Good plan? Not really, and when you get right down to it, the fact that the control sample is unreliable is only one of many parts of the script that doesn't quite make sense. Other parts are telegraphed pretty early or otherwise built out of pretty broad stereotypes; it's a screwball comedy with the emphasis on the screwy. That said, writer/director Valerie Weiss never makes any pretenses about it being something else; and the somewhat heightened environment works for it more often than not. By my usual crude litmus test for such things - how many characters exist only to advance the plot without actually being funny? - the movie is as focused on making the audience laugh as one could hope for.

Full review at EFC.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jay Seaver, Post a pic of you so we can see which awesome Kendall patron you were. Thanks for the great review and description of events at the theater. While I don't make a plot point about being a woman in science, if you insist on calling me something more formal that Valerie, please call me Dr. Weiss :). It took long enough.;) Thanks for spreading the word. We'd love to stick around Kendall even longer....

Jason said...

That's me in the Facebook widget in the corner; considering that this blog has a frequently-used "horrible photography" tag, that's as much as anybody's going to get!