Friday, December 19, 2008


"Dying is easy, Comedy is hard."

(Did you know that the origin of this quote is in dispute? Many believe it was first uttered by the famous actor, Edmund Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle in MIRACLE ON 34th STREET. In any event, it really doesn't matter -- truer words have never been spoken.)

Yes, dying is easy and comedy is hard -- very hard -- and it is especially hard if the comedy in question is being done as an ensemble piece. In fact, one can argue that while there have been a number of successful ensemble comedies produced over the ages, they remain about as rare as a gun rack on a Toyota Prius. Let's see -- there's Renoir's THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939), Bunuel's THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972), several of Robert Altman's efforts, certainly Richard Linklater's DAZED AND CONFUSED and SLACKER qualify, along with IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. This list barely totals a half-dozen, and while I will readily admit there are additional titles that deserve both consideration and inclusion, it should be obvious that the ensemble film comedy constitutes a very difficult genre to master.

And so we come to 3 DAYS BLIND, a relatively low budget, independently financed ensemble comedy that completed principal photography on August 10, 2008, and is now entering its final days of post production. Needtovent is extremely excited about having the opportunity to screen 3 DAYS BLIND well in advance of its release, especially since we have heard good things about this project for many months. The wait has been worth it.

The somewhat deranged minds behind 3 DAYS BLIND belong to the Keith Brothers -- Clete, the Writer/Director and Christopher, credited as the Producer and the Editor. Together, this talented duo has crafted a rollicking, frolicking ribald romp that's just kinky enough for Mr. Friedman to name a cigar after them. The script is blessed with more unexpected, delectable surprises than a Pupu Platter in Phenom Phen even though the entire story takes place in the course of only three days in the life of a decidedly dysfuctional family (is there really any other kind?) who have gathered to celebrate their father's 75th Birthday. Unfortunately, things just seem to get in the way of a quiet family get-together, minor things like death and infidelity (one involving flesh-to-flesh contact and another one or two that substantiates the Dow Chemical Company's claim: "Better Living Through Chemistry") .

As is always the case with comedy films in particular, much of the success behind 3 DAYS BLIND can be attributed to the on-screen performances delivered by the ensemble cast that was assembled to flesh out (pun intended) the madcap antics envisioned by those quirky Keiths. And while none of the cast members are household names, yet, they comprise an experienced, highly energetic and winning collection of talented actors who are sure to win you over.

Rad Daly plays Cameron, a low-key quotidian Quixote whose seemingly simple quest is to bring home his sister and adopted brother so the Blinn family can throw a surprise Birthday party for their aging father. What transpires instead would make Cervantes cringe. Rad's previous screen credits include SHANGHAI NOON and CRIMSON TIDE, as well as the role of Michael Pusser in seven episodes of WALKING TALL.

Tarri Markell is Theresa, Cameron's sister, a struggling actress who constantly puts the ixnay to her husband's e-Bay. You've seen her in such films as NECESSARY EVIL, AIR MARSHALL and DEATH TRAIN. You can see more of her here, and we can assure you that her shapely bare backside rivals the sensuous beauty of a Stradivarius.

Theresa's husband is Clark, a sybaritic internet auction-addicted loser who eventually finds a little gratification with an inanimate, unnamed fellow who owes his existence to the Dow Laboratories in Delaware. Christopher Best plays Clark, and his previous credits include INSTANT TRAUMA, BAD COMPANY, and our personal favorite, the guy in the T-Bird in LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS -- a 1989 release that clawed its way to box-office obscurity.

Brett Anthony, best known for his portrayal of John Ritter in the NBC docudrama, "Behind The Scenes: The Unauthorized Story Of Three's Company" (2003), is cast as the adopted brother, Mickey, a rather bitter pothead with more demons than Malfeas. Who else but Mickey would be attacked from behind by a dishwasher? (This brief scene brings a whole new meaning to the Maytag brand.)

The Girl is Mickey's mysterious, nubile, oh-so-slinky traveling companion. Christy Reese is a relative newcomer, but her sexy, charismatic, comedic charm will surely find her cast in many films to come.

Regan Burns' portrayal of Police Officer Van is so droll it may very well rival Robert Cox's performances in Merrie Olde England in the seventeenth century. Burns' credits include many prime-time television credits including "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" and "RENO 911."

Unfortunately, time and space limitations preclude us from listing all of the other performers, but rest assured that they, too, do a terrific job, as does the entire crew. 3 DAYS BLIND may be a low budget endeavor, but it doesn't look it, so congratulations to Executive Producers Art Bergel, Susan Fowler and Greg McDonald for insuring that the entire budget, modest as it may be, is on the screen where it belongs. We see no need for a government bailout here...

Before closing, we at Needtovent want to acknowledge the hilarious coitus interruptus sequence towards the end of 3 DAYS BLIND. Not only is it funny as hell, but it is an excellent and effective use of mise-en-scene, a cinematic technique rarely employed in American cinema since the days of Otto Preminger. For all of you Film 101 Students out there, mise-en-scene is a more contemplative cinematic technique for telling a story -- it places all of the elements necessary to propel the action within the frame (and not just shown via individual back-and-forth cutting). Today, montage rules, but kudos to the Keith Brothers for employing mise-en-scene here. It works, it works well, and we will bet a dollar to a doughnut that you'll spend your time focusing just as much on the intimate indescretion taking place in the background as you will the dialogue in the foreground. We know we did, we think Stradivarius would, and we'll wager a Krispy Kreme you will, too.