When the bubonic plague hit in 1348 it was pretty bad time to be a Catholic. Monks and Nuns were infected just as much as the beggars and peasants, and the one man everyone looked to for guidance, the Pope, packed his bags and ran away to Babylon. Back then, most people believed that the Black Death was in fact one of God’s biblical plagues, and that God was very very pissed off. Acting out of desperation, men committed unspeakable acts in the name of God in order to shield themselves from his wrath. This is a story of those men.
A few weeks ago after a long day of teaching I plopped down at my desk and checked my twitter feed. After scrolling through the typical I hate my life messages that are normally on display, I hit a message that caught my attention. Alison Brie, star of Madmen, Community, and various daydreams of mine was tweeting a few blocks from my house!? I was perplexed, was she there to see me? No
this couldnt be the case. There had to be some logical explanation to all this. Maybe she would ask to use the bathroom at my house, or something random like that. We dont get famous people in Winter Park very often, unless you count Carrot Top. After using my Google detective skills (I used to work for a private eye
really) I discovered that Alison was in town to promote an indi film by the name of Montana Amazon. After clicking around a few more moments I was able to snatch up tickets to the Sunday showing of Montana Amazon at the Orlando film festival , only a few miles from my house.
Later that day my wife and I discussed going to Harry Potter world on Sunday morning. We were having some of the best weather wed had in ages in Orlando and we wanted to celebrate it by wandering Daigon Alley and chugging butterbeer. Much to my dismay the lazy bug bit, and we opted to stay home, grade papers, and do the mundane things that teachers do. At around 1:00 I again checked my twitter feed. Low and behold there is Alison tweeting from Daigon Alley holding up an award she won for Montana Amazon. Foiled again!
My wife and I arrived early at the Orlando Film festival and were surprised at how friendly and accommodating the staff there was. Jim Hensons daughter Heather ran up to us wearing a fairy costume and asked us personally to go check out a collection of short films about puppets. We love all things Henson so we happily said yes and enjoyed the show.
Soon it was time for the main event, Montana Amazon. In all honesty I was hoping Alison would be there on Sunday to promote the film, but I knew she was probably already en-route back home to shoot Community, Madmen, or maybe a starring role in someone elses daydreams.
Montana Amazon was a great surprise. It was as if someone wrote a film from the prospective of the family from The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Wrong Turn. That being said Montana Amazon was comedy, not a horror film. But what if you wrote a comedy about a family so removed from society that they no longer operate by any of the rules that society has established? The Dunderheads live in their own very simple, messed up world.
What should be mentioned is that The Dunderheads live in Montana, ironically where my older brother lives. Montana currently has a smaller population than Orlando Florida, something to the effect of 600,000 people in the entire state. When a murder goes down the Dunderheads are forced to go on the run in an attempt to make it to Canada, where they can start over.
The cinematography in this film was breathtaking and it really made me want to go on another cross country road trip. Seeing the open desert zip by reminded me of when some of my best friends and I drove across the entire U.S. to run around in the irradiated sands of Roswell New Mexico. Montana Amazon is a great road trip movie, especially if you enjoy looking at areas of the country you may have never experienced personally.
I was also highly impressed with the acting. Both Alison Brie and Olympia Dukakis won awards at our film festival for their portrayal of Ella and Ira respectively. The character of Ella reminded me of an X-girlfriend I once had. Like a cat in heat she longed for the attention of any man willing to pay her attention. Ella’s behavior was no doubt a result of being stuck up in the mountains playing with headless dolls for most of her life. My ex-girlfriend had no excuse. Dukakis did an amazing job with the character of Ira, who I might add has no actual dialogue throughout the entire film. Due to a traumatic experience I dont want to spoil, Ira no longer speaks, but communicates through gestures, grunts, and extreme violence.
It would be a disservice to not mention Haley Joel Osments character of Womple who really drives the story. Womple wants to find his father who vanished long ago. It is Womple and Ella who trick Ira into taking a wrong turn and beginning the adventure. Osment did a great job, and it was good to see the “child actor” all grown up and still in possession of those mad acting skills.
Even though Alison evaded me this time, I had a great time with Montana Amazon. This film reminded me why more independent films need to be supported. Sometimes intimate stories of adventure, family and dysfunction are infinitely better than the remakes that Hollywood enjoys churning out. Find this film, it is by all means Nerd Appropriate.
– I’ll meet you next time Alison Brie…. next time.
You can find when Montana Amazon is coming to your area by checking their site http://www.montanaamazon.com/ma.html
And you can follow them on Twitter @MontanaAmazon