MUMBLESPUNK STREAMER | Puffy Chair
Currently available via Netflix US
This was the feature debut of the Duplass brothers in every possible way. It was the first time that they had both written and produced a movie as well as the first time Jay had directed and Mark had acted in one. In this way it reminds me ever so slightly of Bottle Rocket, a film that launched the careers of Owen Wilson as an actor, Wes Anderson as a director and them both as writers. The films are comparable in other ways too, they both feel as though they are featuring lovable and yet slightly effected characters that the film-makers are not afraid to show everyone their flaws because they paint them with such affection. They both also have this energy, this excitement that even in the slower scenes somehow simmers below the surface. Basically, it is obvious that each set of film-makers have a desire and message that they want to convey in film and that pulsates through their respective movies.
That’s where the comparison ends. The Puffy Chair, in true mumblecore fashion, is weak on plot. Josh (Duplass) travels across the country with his tightly-wound girlfriend (Aselton) and his hippy brother (Wilkins) to pick up and deliver a chair that he bought from eBay to his dad for his birthday. The majority of the ‘action’ takes place in the town where they are meant to collect the chair from but this largely revolves around killing time and an unlikely romance. Where this movie differs from regular mumblecore is in the technical aspect. This feels like a properly plotted movie, with a higher level of either equipment or competence in the cinematography and direction, and far better acting. Duplass feels comfortable on screen and the film seems anchored by his performance, while Wilkins for me steals the show with his soft comic touch.
This reads like a glowing review and perhaps it doesn’t quite deserve the level of praise that I’m bestowing upon it, but this was my second viewing of this movie in the last three months and, unexpected to me, it actually managed to improve second time round. If you like Mark Duplass as an actor then I definitely think that this is worth your time.
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