Tag Archives: Amy Hargreaves

Fly Me to the Moon

Linoleum

by Hope Madden

If you haven’t gotten to know filmmaker Colin West, it’s high time you correct that. The writer/director follows up last year’s surreal Christmas haunting Double Walker with a beautiful look at living a fantastic life.

The effortlessly affable Jim Gaffigan plays Cameron, an astronomer in suburban Dayton, Ohio hitting a very rocky path in his middle age. The kiddie show about science that he hosts is failing. Maybe his marriage is, too. New neighbors, a mysterious woman, and increasingly bizarre events have got him wondering. What does it all mean?

West, expanding his award-winning 2018 short Here & Beyond, writes a meticulous script that folds in on itself in fascinating ways, keeping you guessing and engaged.

Gaffigan is a far more nuanced actor than you might realize. While his dual roles appear at first to provide comedic opportunities, both Gaffigan and West have more up their sleeves than that.

Gaffigan’s performances and West’s approach are primarily earnest, and it’s that simple grounding that allows the absurd flourishes in the film to take flight without cynicism or irony. The supporting cast, including a wonderful Katelyn Nacon, and Rhea Seehorn, Amy Hargreaves, Tony Shalhoub and Gabriel Rush, surrounds Gaffigan’s turn with sincere, often tender but simultaneously comical performances.

West and cinematographer Ed Wu give the environment a nostalgic, lovely, tactile quality that allows it to feel lost in time. All of these elements — the performances, nostalgia, absurd moments and kitchy aesthetic — blend with the story being told in ways that become clear and powerful by Act 3.

Linoleum’s conclusion is a savvy surprise, one that capitalizes on the investment the audience is sure to make in Cam, his family and his happiness. Thanks not only to those performances but to West’s masterful storytelling, a movie that feels like a light-hearted jaunt becomes an emotional powerhouse that leaves you reeling.

CBUS Kink

They/Them/Us

by Hope Madden

In 1968 (and again in 2005), the true romance of Helen North and Frank Beardsley charmed (and likely terrified) cinema audiences. North, a mother of 10 (!) wed Beardsley, a father of 8. The blending of the two families led to, well, just under two hours of hijinks.

And that was without bondage gear.

With They/Them/Us, co-writer/director Jon Sherman revisits the difficulties of combining families and the pain of new relationships, finding the pleasure in both.

Joey Slotnick (veteran TV/movie “that guy”) is Charlie, newly single dad in Columbus. His teenage kids blame him for their broken home, his new job at Ohio’s Christian university is a weird fit, but dating is working out surprisingly well. In fact, Charlie and Lisa (Homeland‘s Amy Hargreaves) fall for each other in record time and move in together almost as quickly.

So far so garden-variety, right? Nope. Because Sherman hasn’t crafted your simple dysfunctional family comedy—no Instant Family or Bad Moms or Daddy’s Home. They/Them/Us takes the tried-and-true tumult of family dynamics and blends it with a sex romp to create an unexpected take on modern parenting.

Lisa, you see, is a bit of a dominatrix. And Charlie is, well, he is willing to learn.

Slotnick’s an endearing mess of neurosis, guilt and naivete. Hargreaves’s performance is earnest and vulnerable, and the two together create a surprisingly sweet bond. Their teen support – especially Jack Steiner as Charlie’s stoner son Danny, and Lexie Bean as Lisa’s woebegone nonbinary child Maddie — fills scenes with laughter and heart.

Stakes never feel especially high and resolutions are not particularly hard won, but Sherman and co-writer/life partner Melissa Vogley Woods — both writing from experience — craft a tender, witty tale of life, love and kink in Columbus.