Mumblecore alumnus Andrew Bujalski sets his latest romantic comedy in the world of an Austin, Texas, workout gym. Results plays this weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. Playing at the Capawock and Strand theaters is John McLean’s debut film, Slow West, a refreshing reinvention of that classic genre.
Results is not your conventional romantic comedy. Its central characters are lonely, semi-loser misfits drifting through life while they tone their muscles. Trevor (Guy Pearce of Iron Man 3) runs Power 4 Life gym, while Cat (Cobie Smulders of Avengers: Age of Ultron) is his super-intense, most popular trainer and sometime lover. Danny (Kevin Corrigan, who plays Bob Kirkland in The Mentalist) kick-starts the action with a move from New York to Austin after his divorce to collect the inheritance his mother has left him, and an aimless decision to start working out. Paul (Giovanni Ribisi of Ted and Avatar) is the lawyer and sort-of-friend Danny meets in a bar. These four hang out at Trevor’s gym, the local bars, or Danny’s rented mega-mansion.
The always optimistic Trevor has an on-again, off-again relationship with Cat, who is as prickly as a porcupine and has plenty of control issues. Newly rich Danny hires Cat for private, at-home training lessons, and fumbles around finding ways to spend his new fortune. These include trolling the Internet to buy a cat, and paying a first-comer to turn on his TV set for him. Paul shows up when Danny needs advice or dope.
The leisurely pace writer and director Bujalski sets as he explores the relationships among these characters may irritate some viewers, but it accurately reflects the world of 30somethings where computers and cell phones keep people apart, and even toning your body at a gym doesn’t do much for establishing real relationships. Results will not make the viewer break out in guffaws, but it does offer chuckles and insights into how the world of romance works these days.
British Director John McLean puts a fresh spin on the Western in his debut film Slow West. Set in Colorado in 1870, the movie tracks the journey into a barbaric West by Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 16-year-old Scot who is searching for Rose (Caren Pistorius), the love of his young life. Rose left Scotland with her father after he killed Jay’s father, and Jay feels responsible for the tragic mishap.
This lanky, six-foot two-inch innocent is rescued from one disaster after another by one Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), whose motives for protecting Jay turn out to be less than pure. Along the way, dead bodies pile up one after another. Silas is as cynical as Jay is romantic, and he has more than a passing acquaintance with a gang of bounty hunters headed by fur-bedecked Payne (Ben Mendelsohn).
Slow West was filmed on the south island of New Zealand, and its lushly beautiful landscapes add a tinge of something not quite American to the stunning cinematography. Rose is not the kind of young woman one might expect as the object of Jay’s affections. Periodic little visual touches add satisfying elements of surprise: an egg, an arrow through the hand, an unusually placed clothesline, a rogue’s gallery of corpses. Many of the usual conventions of the Western remain intact, including the pairing of the ingénue with an older buckaroo, the violent gunplay, and the appearance of Native Americans, but in Slow West they seem more reinvented than cliché.
Results, Friday, June 19, and Saturday, June 20, 7:30 pm; Sunday, June 21, 4 pm, Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, Tisbury Marketplace, Vineyard Haven.
Slow West, Saturday, June 20, 9 pm, and Tuesday, June 23, 6:30 pm, Capawock Theatre, 43 Main St., Vineyard Haven; Monday, June 22, 7 pm, Strand Theatre, Oak Bluffs Avenue, Oak Bluffs. For tickets and information on other films playing at all three theatres, see mvfilmsociety.com.