Saturday, September 6, 2014

Land Ho (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Land Ho!

Here is a road comedy co-directed by Aaron Katz (Cold Weather) and produced by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) about two older men who are also former brothers- in-law and lifelong friends.

While it is light on pathos, it is a kind of microscopic study in friendship. With only a few minimal touches similar to calligraphy, you do get a sense of these men.

Like a film employing a visual sleight of hand, "Land Ho!" is more than the sum of its parts. The film was shot with Red One cameras in order to better capture a minute fly-on-the wall feeling, rich in subtle unobtrusive gestures. The effect works, producing a swift and breezy account of an uncomfortable idyll in progress.

Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) is a doctor, who is part John Wayne, part Santa Claus. He is sex-obsessed. When his emotionally-reserved friend, Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) gets divorced, Mitch tells his friend that they are about to go on a "get-your-groove back" vacation.

But where? Miami Beach? Las Vegas? The Hamptons?

No, Iceland.

Colin is aghast. Surely Mitch can't be serious?

Fear not. "Land Ho!" is no cornball version of  "The Bucket List". Instead, in the manner of a short New Yorker biographical sketch we see these people as they truly behave in public and private.

The melancholy Colin sees meaning and anxiety in a mixed media assemblage at a gallery, while Mitch only sees a physical sexuality. Art is merely porn to excite him.

Mitch and Colin go to the airport in Reykjavik to pick up Mitch's cousin, Ellen (Karrie Crouse) and her girlfriend Janet (Elizabeth McKee). Horny devil Mitch lasciviously and creepily leer at the women as if they are bait on a hook, and the two girls attempt to flee to the bathroom.

In a pot and alcohol haze, the two go to a disco, where they are kicked to the curb, by the younger ladies. Colin and Mitch become prey to sluggish boredom, rapid nonsensical speech and a youth culture that is patronizing and chock full of little elements that they can't understand.

Mitch's earthy sour-ball joy keeps Colin's Low-T fiesta from sinking beyond reach.

The two actors play off well together, having a light bounce that is irrepressible. Earl Lynn Nelson is a riot in his inappropriateness and blunt free associations that hover close to a snickering offensiveness. Mitch is a teenager in a baby boomer's wrinkled body, a hopeless  pothead prone to anxiety, while there is a juicy leap when the shy and awkward Colin feels the warmth of a Canadian kiss with the softly sensual  Nadine (mosaic artist Alice Olivia Clarke).

As if to take a cue from PBS' "East Enders" these vignettes prove brief sketchy, and so pastel in texture that they might just slip under the eyelids.

Then in a clap, the episodes turn compact and form a whole, where the arc of a friendship can suddenly be seen like randy rockets  from a hot spring: a septuagenarian geyser of steamy vapors which in a final jolt, form the shapes of two.

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