Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Bob's New Suit": a "narrative" family comedy seen from the viewpoint of a wardrobe item, set in the Valley, of course


Bob’s New Suit”, a new comedy by Alan Howard, tells the story of a working-class “Vallye” family through the eyes of a suit that its nicest character acquires for a wedding.  Yup.  Ever wondered what your clothes would say if they could talk?
   
Actually, the comedy “What Happens Next?” (Dec. 31, 2012) also started out in a walk-in closet.  And I sense that this new film is familiar, like I might have heard of the script somewhere, from a screenwriting group when I lived in Minneapolis or from a class here in Arlington. 
  
This is also a film where “the kids are all right” but the grown-ups aren’t.
  
Bob (Hunter Bodine), the suit-wearer, a gardener and handyman, is a strong enough young man to hold the rest of his family together.  He’ll have to be a super person to get through all this.  He’s straight, and he needs Jenny (Hayley DuMond and maybe named after a corresponding character in “Swiss Family Robinson”) to see him through the changes that happen to his family when his mysterious dad Buster (John Bennett Perry_, a laid-off aerospace engineer, loses it.  His tomboyish sister (Shay Astar) announces that she is trangender and will become a man.  Mom (Suzi Bodine) can’t tale what Stephanie is doing to the family (starting with his ailing dad, an idea that I faced mysef decades ago), until she has to face that it all came down from Mom and Dad, as deeper family secrets unravel.  Only the suit knows all.  Is this what English author Thomas Carlyle wanted with “Sartor Resartus”?  Check the plot of Carlyle’s novel and “new kind of book”  on Wikipedia (remember your English lit?): it seems to inspire this film. Stephanie does gradually become Steve and dates Marlena (no connection to the character in "Days"), Jenny Shimizu.  Another family member, and scammer, is played clearly by Charlie Babcock. 
  
The film looks like it was shot largely shot “in the Valley”; it looks like the area not too far from the (“traffic jam”) 405 and 101; I was there last May.  Watching the film, I felt like I could just drive back to the Angelino Hotel and enjoy the view from the roof. 
  
The Facebook site is here. The DVD (from  Breaking Glass Pictures, and Rowan) will be available on April 2, 2013.  

  
This film also struck me as a take-off on Robert Altman’s style of filmmaking (“Short Cuts”), or even a miniature “Magnolia” (Paul Thomas Anderson).  

The DVD contains three interviews. I received a screener from the distributor.   Michal Silverblatt ("The Reader", or The Suit talking) interviews the director Howard, who compares his work to that of Alfred Hitchcock ("Marnie" and even the switched identities of "Vertigo"), a mood analogy that I don't see,  He compares himself to George Cukor, John Ford (continuity), and Jacques Demy.  Then Howard interviews Ashtar (a very feminine actress in real life) for 20 minutes, and then Suzi Bodine, about acting with her son. 

Picture: Mine, from the Angelino on the 405, roof bar-restaurant, at breakfast; below, another view. Makes you want to be their right now. 
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