Art Imitates Something
by Molly Templeton
BAGHEAD: Written, produced and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass. Music, J. Scott Howard. Starring Greta Gerwig, Steve Zissis, Ross Partridge and Elise Muller. Sony Pictures Classics, 2008. R. 84 minutes.
|Steve Zissis, Elise Muller and Greta Gerwig in Baghead|
After Andrew Bujalski’s charming, low-key Mutual Appreciation, I thought I was in favor of “mumblecore,” the too-cutely named mini-genre of lo-fi, low-budget, talky indie flicks about twentysomething uncertainty. But between last year’s trying Hannah Takes the Stairs and now Baghead, the appeal is wearing thin. Both films star Greta Gerwig as a variant on what The Onion’s A/V Club dubbed the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she’s the Vapid Pixie Dream Girl Next Door, oblivious and self-centered and dissatisfied. In Baghead, she and three fellow actor friends — schlumpy Chad (Steve Zissis), who’s in love with Gerwig’s Michelle; alpha-male Matt (Ross Partridge), who has “Elvis hair” and is the most likable of the lot; and too-tan, too-blonde Catherine (Elise Muller) — take in a pretentious indie flick at an L.A. festival. Inspired (in a way), they decide to spend the weekend writing a better movie that, naturally, includes a role for each of them. The movie they consider writing is reflected in the movie we’re watching: Baghead is first an indie relationship flick, then a (sorta) horror flick about a guy with a bag on his head. The bag-wearing person is half scary and half absurd, and the film’s denouement is unsurprising; Baghead almost recognizes the tensions between creative work and life, but in the end that feels like too heavy a thought for such a slight semi-spoof of a film. Baghead opens Friday, Sept. 19, at the Bijou.