Friday, May 26, 2017

Mark Duplass: 2 movies with 2 players, less than 90

Last night I watched Creep (2014) written and performed by Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice. Brice is the director.
The night before I watched Blue Jay (2016) written, performed by Mark Duplass. Sarah Paulson is the other actor.

I liked both movies.
They have in common Mark Duplass writing, acting in them.
They are also both very small two-actor productions that are less than 90 minutes long.

Blue Jay has Clu Gulager in it for a very brief scene and it was nice to see him again. But other than that brief scene, it is all Duplass and Paulson.
Creep has two actors. No other actors appearing on screen.
I admire the economy of the two-actor short feature. It appeals also to whatever DIY feelings I have about film. I could never mount a big production, but a two person piece. . .well, maybe, at least in my dreams.

Why are movies most always 90 minutes or more? I suppose it has roots in olden times when regular theatrical showings of Double Features were abandoned. During the Double Feature era, there might have been a 90 or 120 minute feature on the bill, as well as a couple of short subjects 10 minutes or so long, and the second B-movie feature that might have been only 60 minutes long.
Then they dropped that and basically had one feature film on the bill with maybe a cartoon. So the movie had to be around 90 minutes or more for the exhibitors to feel that they were giving the public their money’s worth of an evening’s entertainment.
Live TV, by which I mean broadcast TV, is/was linked to start-stop times on the hour or half hour so the programs would be more easily listed and viewers would know when to tune in. The 90 minute movie length was also suitable to a two-hour commercial TV slot with ads filling the remainder of the time.

With the rise of streaming on demand services all these time constraints disappear and there is no reason at all that a moving picture presentation has to be any particular length at all. While I’m aware of the current trend of the continuing story multi-season series of an hour episode each that can be stream binged, there is also space for one-shot short features like these productions with Mark Duplass.   

I like this. I like the story to be complete in an hour and a half or less. Although I see the attraction of the long form with further character and plot developments, I’m not drawn to that myself. The exception is half hour Netflix comedies such as Kimmy Schmidt, or Master of None.

These two moving pictures have Mark Duplass in common as writer/performer. They both only have two actors. Mark Duplass is an entirely different, complex character in each.

Blue Jay is a male/female love story. The woman, Sarah Paulson is back in a small mountain town to assist her pregnant sister. She runs into her old high school love, Mark Duplass,  in the supermarket. Their relationship was 20 years ago. The man is not married. She is married but her husband is not with her on this trip. The movie is the two of them reminiscing, drinking some beer, playing together. Things are revealed and there are hints of what could have been. It is a brisk entertaining movie with an powerful emotional core of love and loss. The two actors have to carry the movie and do that very well.
It is 80 minutes long.

Creep is an entirely different product. A sort of suspense horror drama with only the two actors. Patrick Brice plays a videographer who answers an ad to video a man, played by Mark Duplass. It is mostly all Duplass’s movie since the camera view is supposed to be the video the hired guy is making. He is very strange from the outset and stranger as we go on. He claims he has terminal cancer with a pregnant wife. The video is to be left to the son he will never get to see. It is very good pathetic nut villainous role that Duplass has devised for himself.
Creep is a psychological horror movie, but indeed Creepy.
It is a brief 77 minutes.

Duplass is an intense and focused actor in both of these. I was drawn to watching his every move because he has an aura of total unpredictability. I will be looking at move of his work.

Both these movie are on Netflix at this writing.

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