' ' Cinema Romantico: Loitering With Intent

Monday, May 04, 2015

Loitering With Intent

“Loitering With Intent” is another in an unyielding line of movies about making movies, one with maximum meta-ness. It revolves around a pair of second tier actors, Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin), who tend bar to pay the bills. They are played, respectively, by Michael Godere and Ivan Martin, a pair of second tier actors. Their characters accidentally find themselves in the midst of an impromptu pitch meeting where they are able to get $10,000 committed to their screenplay by an energetic producer. The producer is played by Natasha Lyonne, and though she’s playing a fictional character, I was content to imagine her as Natasha Lyonne because it made me decide in the moment that Natasha Lyonne needed to be a producer. The obligatory issue, as you might surmise, is that Godere and Martin – er, Dominic and Raphael have not written the screenplay. Uh oh. So as the two men walk and talk and argue with a lilting backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor, you can practically see Dominic and Raphael – er, Godere and Martin recall the cardinal rule of low-budget filmmaking – minimize your locations. Thus, they have their characters “go to the country” to Dominic’s sister’s summer home, a single spectacularly vintage set where the “Loitering With Intent” crew can park itself and make a movie.

Our aspiring writers begin reasonably well, creating a screenwriting flow chart, discussing how their film to-be takes place in an “elevated genre”, “a character piece disguised as noir”. Alas, distractions promptly ensue as the film brings additional characters, all with maximum quirks, on stage one-by-one, causing the hypothetical screenplay to take an obligatory backseat to drama and drinking and shouting and fighting and campfire confessionals. La-di-da. You’ve seen this sort of thing before, sure, many times, but the film captures a genuinely playful air, one that laughingly rolls its eyes at how high its own characters treat their story’s “stakes”. The summer home's apparent gardener or caretaker or who-knows-what (Isabelle McNally), flitting about, playing less attention to what she is supposed to be “doing” than the whims of the moment, is emblematic of the whole movie.

The meta-ness ramps because Godere and Martin become very much second tier in a movie where they have consciously given themselves the starring roles. This is because Marisa Tomei (who produced) is Gigi, Dominic’s sister, a free spirit, a kindly loose cannon who has unexpectedly shown up to get away from her boyfriend, Wayne. He is played by Sam Rockwell, the film’s other first class thespian, with a kind of charming insouciance. I was left wanting, in fact, for a movie about their relationship histrionics. Once I occasionally frequented a divey bar down the alley frequented by a couple that rarely sat together yet still appeared in love while occasionally sparring. I’m pretty sure Gigi and Wayne are that couple. But I’m getting distracted.

Less successful are the tribulations of our screenwriting team which rely a couple rote confessionals that could have benefited from a bit of spit and polish by Keith Michaels. Still, there is something winning about the way in which their script sessions are not solved by all the hijinks surrounding them. Real life does not flower on the page. They do not write what they know. In fact, they don’t write much at all. Somewhere along the line the entire 10 Days To Write A Screenplay storyline falls by the wayside and so does yet another chance for a desperate Dominic to make his “mark”. “Loitering With Intent” ends abruptly but that’s what I loved about it. It doesn’t masquerade in believing its maxims. The only maxim it believes is when Rockwell says “We’re all just bacteria, dude.”

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