Tag Archives: Sufe Bradshaw

More Geezer, Less Teaser

Gasoline Alley

by George Wolf

“Hey, Bruce Willis, how many movies do you have coming this year?”


In the month or so since the last Willis project with writer/director Edward John Drake – American Siege– was released, I’ve learned of the term “Geezer Teaser,” which is a perfect summation of how this genre usually operates. An aging star is featured heavily in the marketing, while their tangential character often just disappears midway through the film due to the star’s 1-day shooting schedule.

The good news for Gasoline Alley is that Willis hangs in ’til the end, and it’s clearly the best of the Willis/Drake collabs.

Luke Wilson joins in this time as well, playing Detective Vargas to Bruno’s Detective Freeman, and these two guys have four big problems. The bodies of four dead hookers have turned up, and a lighter found at the scene leads the two cops to Gasoline Alley, the L.A. tattoo parlor of ex-con Jimmy Jayne (Devon Sawa). Jimmy was also the last person seen with the dead hooker named Star (“If you forget it, just look up”), but do you think Jimmy’s going to sit back and just accept being framed?

Damn right he’s not. He’s going to let Willis and Wilson (Willison!) take some scenes off while he conducts his own investigation, sleuthin’ and shootin’ with an ever-present cigarette dangling perfectly from his steely pout.

Most everything about Drake’s films is varying degrees short of authentic. And though Gasoline Alley shows progress, details such as the set design, score and faux news reports still seem carelessly thrown together, which don’t give the forced noir dramatics much of a chance to cast a spell.

But if you’ve seen all of the Drake/Willis (Drillis!) catalog (and this is number five, with another currently in post-production), Gasoline Alley is a pleasant surprise.

Drake’s script (co-written with Tom Sierchio) has moments of self-aware humor – even poking fun at one of his previous films. And while Willis is again on autopilot, Wilson seems to be enjoying the “no F’s to give” attitude of his character, Sawa is commendably committed and Veep‘s Sufe Bradshaw turns in some fine support.

Is it ridiculous, overwrought and amateurish in spots? Sure, but this one is actually watchable.

Bravo, fellas, keep it up.

Womb to Rent

Together Together

by George Wolf

It takes a full two minutes to get a really good feeling about Together Together.

Writer/director Nikole Beckwith delivers witty, engaging dialogue from the jump, defining characters and setting the stakes in a beautifully organic manner. This is much more difficult than Beckwith and her two leads make it appear.

Matt (Ed Helms) is interviewing Anna (Patti Harrison) to be the surrogate mother who’ll deliver his child. Matt, a forty-something app developer, is single but wants to be a father. 26-year-old Anna needs the money and wouldn’t mind the healthy deposit in the bank of good karma.

So if you’re keeping score, the film boasts a fresh premise, crisp writing and likable personalities before you’ve sipped your beverage of choice. And as we follow Matt and Anna from first trimester to labor, Together Together is never less than warm, insightful and lovely.

With no romance and only a few laugh out loud moments (most of those delivered by Sufe Bradshaw’s sarcastic medical tech and Julio Torres as an over the top barista), you can’t really call this a rom-com. But even that seems to fit. Just like Matt and Anna, Beckwith (helming her second feature after 2015’s Stockholm, Pennsylvania) is proudly going her own way.

Helms adds important layers to his usual nerd persona, slowly revealing more detailed reasons why Matt is choosing to be a single father, and why Anna is challenging his perceptions on nearly everything.

Harrison, whose resume sports mainly TV and voice work, delivers a fantastically understated breakout performance. Anna is pleasantly frank and sarcastic, but guarded. She’s hiding some scars, and Harrison reveals them with ease and authenticity.

Beckwith fills nearly every frame with a tender empathy that has us pulling for this offbeat pair as a matter of course, making it that much easier for her to reach us. From surrogacy and masculinity to Woody Allen, Friends, and the proper use of tampons, the film drops its insight in ways that are consistently fresh.

There’s love and family and funny stuff here, and though none of it is quite the kind we’re used to seeing, all of it is wonderfully real. Together Together is a delivery that somehow feels comfortable and unique, both overdue and right on time.