2006Director: Jose Prendes
Cast: Jose Prendes; Karen Ross; Jessica Prendes
o state the obvious upfront: Playgiarism isn’t 8 ½ or Day for Night, but chances are writer-director Jose Prendes is familiar with both. If I was kinder, I might stretch matters and call Prendes’s film an amateur Day for Night. Either way, though, the operative word here is decidedly “amateur.” Clumsiness and ineptitude pervade every frame; Truffaut this ain’t.
Still, if Playgiarism is a bad movie, it’s also harmless and kind of cute, in its own hapless way. Our kitten, for instance, bites the hell out of everything: our fingers, our toes, its tail, etc. But it doesn’t hurt when he bites. Sometimes it’s annoying, sure, but it’s more often endearing watching the little jerk go at it. Prendes describes his film as “very funny and very sweet,” and, well, that’s half-true.
The story involves a writer’s block-afflicted filmmaker who’s hired by an eccentric older woman to direct her company of “actors” in a play she’s written (get it—Playgiarism?). The material has modest potential, and the cast clearly had a lot of fun going through their respective motions. (Watching bad actors playing bad actors adds a nice meta sheen to the proceedings.) There’s plenty of heart here, yes, but funny? There are some amusing quirks along the way—the narrative is kick-started when an immigrant plumber snatches thirty bucks from the protagonist’s wallet and later a character nicknamed “Fist” warns “prepare to be fisted”—yet the lion’s share of laughs are at the film’s expense.
My wife compared Prendes to Edward D. Wood, Jr., and while I haven’t seen such previous efforts as Corpses Are Forever or Song of the Vampire, her point seems right on target. Honestly, I’d be shocked if Prendes ever produced something resembling a good movie. The only thing flatter than his writing is his compositions, which seem inspired by early Kevin Smith in their no-budget immobility. I can just see our would-be auteur behind the camera, ignoring (or failing to notice) a misread line or botched effect, praising his crew: “That one was great! Just perfect, guys! Alright, onto the next scene!”
On the other hand, I’d be more surprised if he ever lost his enthusiasm for trying to make movies, and that goes a long way. Unfortunately, in the case of Playgiarism, it just doesn’t go far enough. Here’s to hoping Prendes doesn’t quit his day job.
Playgiarism is currently seeking distribution.
By: Josh Timmermann
Published on: 2006-09-01