We have incredible respect for all of the reporters and bloggers who manage to run to four screenings and press junkets a day at festivals and still file stories that night â€“ like, how much crystal meth do you do (can you hook us up)? We’re exhausted.
This morning we caught the second screening of "Live Free or Die," a leisurely comedy from Andy Robin and Gregg Kavet (both former "Seinfeld" writers) about bumbling criminals and bumbling cops in small town New Hampshire. The film was sometimes very funny, and sometimes more just convinced of its own funniness, and overall we found it diverting if unexceptional, save for a hilarious performance from Paul Schneider, who manages to channel something between Will Farrell and a New England version of Forrest Gump. It’s a fairly black comedy that gets a lot of its laughs from its location, so if you find the minutia of life in a shabby small town inherently amusing, this is a film for you. Otherwise, for all its unevenness, we think "The Ice Harvest" covered similar ground better.
We barely made it into last night’s screening of "The Cassidy Kids," from Jacob Vaughan and Bryan Poyser of "Dear Pillow" â€“ the director and producer are local, as was most if not all of the crew, and, despite no major names attached to the film, the huge Paramount Theatre was packed. "The Cassidy Kids" is clever, hugely enjoyable and almost impossible to describe â€“ the film is about a group of five kids who solved a murder case in their town. The rights to their story are sold off and spawn a popular Saturday morning children’s show â€“ the lone girl, Rebecca Vanderpool, goes on to actually star in the series, playing a stylized version of herself. Now, years later, the actual Cassidy Kids, Rebecca included (grown up to be Anne Ramsay), are back in town to record DVD commentary for a box set of the show.
The film plays off the contrast of what the kids were like and what they become, along with what they’re translated into for the show, which we see in glimpses, both convincingly hokey and 80s PBSesque…and then there’s the event that ultimately shaped all of their lives, an event they may not all see the same way. Vaughan’s golden-toned film is also an ode to the faintly recalled television shows and battered YA paperbacks of our youth. It may be, in the end, a little pat (though we hardly have a problem with that â€“ suck it up, Donna Tartt), but we liked it an awful lot.