Friday, May 03, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Brazzaville Teen-Ager (2013) ****

NR, 20 min.
Director: Michael Cera
Writers: Michael Cera, Bruce Jay Friedman (also original story)
Starring: Michael Cera, Jack O’Connell, Charles Grodin, Kelis

“Brazzaville Teen-Ager” is a rather brilliant short film that marks the directorial debut of actor Michael Cera. Co-written by Cera and Bruce Jay Friendman from Friedman’s own 1966 short story, this film is no dipping of the toes for Cera as a serious filmmaker. This is the real deal. He is a bona fide filmmaker, proving it with a confident short entry.

Cera plays a man whose father has been hospitalized. He gets it in his head that the only way he can help his father, whose ailment is a mystery, is to perform a self-effacing act that will bring humiliation to himself and likely his boss. He enlists his boss with an insane request to sing back up vocals on a pop star’s latest single.

Yes, yes, yes. This all sounds very strange, and so it is. That is sort of the point of the main character, however. He feels what is needed to help is father is something strange from himself. What is really amazing about the film, however, is Cera’s ability to carry this tale in a compelling manner. His use of sound is very deliberate and important to his execution. So much of this crazy idea comes from the inner mind. Cera communicates that in a direct and artistic manner.

The movie has a very serious tone to it even though its premise is so strange and it is essentially a comedy. This serious tone builds up to a punchline that is cleansing once it finally arrives. I also like what the man’s boss has to say about music after he’s finished with his role in the endeavor. It really does get into you, just like this movie does.

Watch the movie in its entirety below.

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