Showing posts with label Jennifer Jason Leigh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jennifer Jason Leigh. Show all posts

2 October 2013

Raindance Film Festival 2013 Review - Jake Squared

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Release Date:
27, 28th September 2013(Raindance)
Howard Goldberg
Elias Koteas, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Virginia Madsen

With one of the most innovative set-ups on show at this years Raindance festival, Jake Squared comically questions the importance of certain life decisions, and the part they play in defining the self when all is said and done. The easiest reference point for the conceptual narrative of writer/director Howard Goldberg’s feature is Charlie Kaufman’s mind-melting Synecdoche, New York, casting as it does, the lead role within his own film portraying varying aspects of his own life. Fortunately tone is somewhat easier to determine, pitching itself somewhere between a meta-comedy and faux philosophical questioning.

The eponymous lead in question is a 50 year-old part-time film director and (slightly more than) part time real estate agent. A hopeless romantic at heart, Jake is at a loss as to how he has ended up alone bar the two teenage children resulting from his previous marriage. On a mission to make sense of everything he embarks on an ambitious film project casting himself as a hunky twenty-something as the host of a sprawling house party where guests will come and go and somewhere in amongst the endless rolls of footage will lie answers. Any answers will do.

The fourth wall not so much broken as well and truly obliterated, we float alongside actor Jake while being guided by real Jake as he interjects and interrupts various scenes offering his own direction and pieces to camera. Before long Jake’s film set spirals out of his control, gatecrashed by a host of uninvited guests. There’s 40 year-old Jake joining a drum circle, a perma-chilled bandana sporting Harley Davison fanatic; playboy Jake from his 30’s casually eyeing up female guests, and even a sprightly 17 year-old hippy Jake insistent on being called by his stage name Damien. To add to the disarray he is joined by girlfriends of the past mingling with family members long since passed in real life.

If this all sounds head-scratchingly difficult to work out then that may just be the point. Jake Squared attempts to take in a whole life to make sense of their place, and a whole life is a big sprawling, pattern-less maze which cannot be self-edited or escaped - there’s even a neat gag about the past catching up with you to prove just this.

Holding the film up and keeping it steady is a tight script acted with conviction by Elias Koleas who flitters between Jake through the ages bringing believability to each phrase of his life. It’s a clever trick making physical the psychological changes a person goes through in time, complete with lost loves, lost hair and lost ideals.

At times over-reaching and arguably naval-gazing (the many inserted quotes offer little to the overall film), Jake Squared is none-the-less an admirably ambitious film and a laudably inventive one.


Matthew Walsh