Friday, November 1, 2013

Pillowfighter (2002)

Director: Jamie Greenberg

Writer: Jamie Greenberg

Composer: Traditional songs

Starring: Tom Shillue, Brian Unger, Jamie Greenberg, Stephen Lynch, Michelle Maryk, Andres du Bouchet, Joey McIntyre, Charles Ezell

More info: IMDb

Plot: There is something our nation has forgotten. Back in the 1890s, America's most popular spectator sport was... PROFESSIONAL PILLOWFIGHTING. Film chronicles the life of champion pillowfighter Big Jack Bolster-- whose fortunes rose and fell with those of the sport he loved.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes, and again and again and again...

This is absolutely brilliant.  Not only is it a spot on spoof of Ken Burns documentary like THE CIVIL WAR (1990) but, and more impressively, it's funny as hell.  The gags run from silly to clever and sublime.  This is one of my favorites...

  "Jack was born into a family of 42 children."

Notice what's written in the lower right hand corner.  Fucking classic.  The cast of talking heads has some familiar names and faces.  Michelle Maryk slays me.

Ahahahahahahaha.  That's some funny shit, there.  

Sure, this is brilliantly funny (yeah, I'm really going crazy with the praise but it's really that good) but what happened behind the camera is equally impressive if not more so.  The doctored photos and film are masterfully handled to look like they are really from the early 1900s.  There are times you can tell they're fake but often you have to look REALLY hard to distinguish it.  What's more, actual vintage film was sometimes used that had a little bit of business added to it, like this image from a few second vintage clip where you see an advertisement (on the left) for Big Jack Bolster...

It's one thing to digitally enhance an existing photo but there's a whole other level of impressive when you add it to a video AND while the camera is panning with the motion on screen.  The YouTube video (above) on Greenberg's channel is 7 minutes shy of the version I have (mine runs just under 23 minutes).  I haven't watched the shorter version so I don't know what's missing or different about it.  I struggled to find the entire video online and this was the best I could find.  I've had the longer version so long I can't remember where I found it or how I learned of it.  Since then I've shown it to a couple of dozen friends.  I've seen it at least a half dozen times and it never gets old.  There are a lot of belly laughs packed into those 23 minutes and it's an impressive film no matter how you slice it. Thank you, Jamie Greenberg.

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