The Phoenix Film Festival is wrapping up, and last night I went to see two movies. First, I saw Putzel, a comedy about a down on his luck Jewish man living in the Upper West Side of New York City struggling to sell lox. Putzel features Jack Carpenter, John Pankow, and Melanie Lynskey. You might know Melanie from the hit TV show Two And A Half Men. She plays Rose. Then I went to see Favor, a somewhat disturbing drama about two guys, burying a body, and how that changes things. Favor features Blayne Weaver, Patrick Day, and Cheryl Nichols.
The movie puts a lot of focus on Walter, played by Jack Carpenter, and his position at Himmelstein’s House of Lox selling lox in Manhattan. He has never traveled outside of the Upper West Side, and that is a reoccurring theme in this movie. Walter is also married, unhappily, and is trying to do his best to rid himself of the situation. That also comes up several times, and actually provides for a few laughable moments when details of their situation come out.
When Sally, played by Melanie Lynskey, buys some salmon, Sid, played by John Pankow, becomes infatuated with her. Sid is married, but uses this midlife crisis as an excuse to find true love. Sally never finds interest in him past being friends, and that provides for a lot of laughable dialog throughout the movie. By the end of the film, Sid is stalking her trying to figure out how to get her to love him.
The movie is filled with one-liners, and there are a few scenes that I might never forget. For example, one of the employees at Himmelstein’s is infatuated with salmon. He is Russian, not sure if that has anything to do with his love for fish, and goes from serenading the salmon to an unavoidable scene that caused the whole audience to erupt in laughter. It provided a nice break from the conversation going on between Sally, Walter, and Sid.
“A Putzel is a little putz. A Putzel is also a wonderful independent film made by a fiercely talented man named Jason Chaet… It was, and is, smart, fantastic, quirky, charming. It is a New York story and as Jason put it in his remarks after the screening, “a modern fable…” – Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author and blogger
When Walter starts to find interest in Sally, their story takes on a new twist. He loves her. He thinks she loves him. She doesn’t know if she loves him. It’s a fun ride seeing what Sally will do with Walter, who is still married, and Sid, who is also married. She makes a comment somewhere along the lines about making her way through the entire family.
The movie is fun. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and while the plot doesn’t require it, I fell in love with the actors. I want to hang out with Walter. I want to watch Sally dance. She is a dancer in the movie. I want to discuss politics with Sid. If Putzel did anything right, it was introduce and explain/explore each character to the point of no return. Himmelstein’s isn’t real, but after seeing this movie, I want it to be. I want to visit NYC and buy a bagel and lox at Himmelstein’s.
It’s hard when watching a movie like this to remember it’s an independent film. I guess that is the point of the Phoenix Film Festival!
I didn’t know what to expect, but quickly learned that this “favor” was more than borrowing a lawn mower. When Kip Desmond, played by Blayne Weaver, reaches out to his longtime friend Marvin Croat, played by Patrick Day, for a favor, the rest of the movie is just a twisting and turning spiral downward. Basically, without giving too much away, Kip kills a woman he was sleeping with. He is married, has a successful career, and is running on all cylinders. When the mistress dies, he needs to hide the body rather than doing the right thing. He asks Marvin, an unemployed sloth that is willing to do anything just to have some responsibility. Kip needs help burying the body, and Marvin takes over.
Things take a turn when the girl wakes up in the back of Marvin’s car. The simple task of burying the body becomes complicated when Marvin is forced to murder and still bury the body. That changes Marvin, and now he feels Kip owes him something. From asking for money to forcing Kip to get him a job at his advertising firm, Marvin uses Kip until he finally snaps.
“A friend helps you move. A good friend helps you move a body.”
Favor is dark, depressing, and has me thinking about, if being put in that situation, what I would do. I would call the police, but if Kip had called the cops, he would lose his wife, his job, and more. Without giving anything away, stuff happens, but the movie ends with a smile on Kip’s lips.
These are the two movies I watched last night, and I am apparently seeing three more movies tonight. This is my first film festival, and I am excited that the movies have been enjoyable. I also watched Found earlier this week, but would need to spend some time thinking about it for my review. It was the best movie I have seen in years, but is VERY graphic offering up decapitation, full frontal murders, lots of blood, and more. If you like horror, then I highly recommend you checking that out.
There are so many great movies I could review… let’s see what I think of the three I am seeing tonight. See YOU at the movies!