“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts,” Reviewed

“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts,” Reviewed (photo)

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There isn’t much of a better way to describe Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell’s “Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” than its title, which concisely suggests its size and function and though it’s unmistakably human in its warmth, it’s an indie road movie that runs like clockwork in the tradition of other such films.

The title is also a reference to the profession of Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman), a “freelance technologist” as she bills herself in the ad she posts in the opening frames of the film, a job that requires her to ask people about their connection to technology and have an insatiable curiosity about how things work. And soon after unhinging the backs of iMacs and old radios, giving the latter a come hither “well, hello there,” Sarah is so obsessed with the electronic configuration of a pregnancy test that she barely notices it reads positive, setting her off on a journey across the country to visit her father (Richard Hoag) and find her estranged mother (Mary Beth Peil) to reassure her about parenthood.

It’s a clever way into territory where Sarah may not have been before, but audiences likely have and while it’s not as manic as David O. Russell’s “Flirting with Disaster” or as melancholy as Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go,” Robinson and Howell mostly strike the right notes in exploring what’s passed on between parents and children without ever being too on the nose. This might seem impossible when it’s revealed that Sarah’s mother retreated into the desert or “off the grid,” as Sarah’s sister informs her, far from a world of cell phones and computers, but the writing/directing duo allow the story to breathe and trusts viewers to gradually see in what ways Sarah has her parents’ DNA and which ways she doesn’t.

Much of the film’s charm can be attributed to the film’s lead Hollyman, who is indefatigably upbeat without being annoyingly so, a feat made more impressive considering she’s nearly in every frame. Whether the film was actually built around the actress or not, Robinson and Howell get away a sparser screenplay just by relying on Hollyman’s facility for expressing so much with just her eyes, from delight to confusion, and in exchange, the actress gets the intriguing challenge of playing a woman who embraces isolation so long as she has her gadgets nearby, yet appears to be completely comfortable in the company of others. (That dichotomy brings up the nagging question of why it’s so important for Sarah to reunite with her mother when she seems so self-dependent, but the film engenders enough good will to overlook it.)

Although saying “Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” somehow taps into the zeitgeist with the ways in which we connect to each other wouldn’t be completely off the mark, it is thankfully far too humble to think of itself as some great statement, settling instead for a simple story well told.

“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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