Sunday, May 01, 2011

Atlanta Film Festival review: "Old Goats"

"Snakes on a Plane" may stand as the most literal movie title of all time, but "Old Goats" certainly comes close, and the movie's a heck of a lot better, too.

Taylor Guterson's movie delivers exactly what the title promises, a story about three cantankerous old guys in the pacific northwest. And although they are more than occasionally grumpy old men, they're mostly just guys who are embracing what's left of their lives with gusto and with a heavy dose of humor - and infectious bulls#$%ting.

The three "stars" here are actually three men - David Vander Wal, Bob Burkholder and Britton Crosley - who play somewhat fictionalized versions of themselves. And this format, while not quite a mockumentary, gives these definite non-actors a natural arena to be themselves and be very funny doing it.

As the movie opens, Britt is making a presentation to a group of fellow old dudes about a sailing trip he plans to make to Hawaii - by himself. Egged on by Bob, the instigator of all the shenanigans in "Old Goats," and doubted by David, a retired business executive who's clearly kind of slumming with these guys and loving it, he inevitably backs out and catches a lot of hell from Bob for it.

We soon find out that Britt lives on his boat, and it's not exactly anything approaching a houseboat. The story in "Old Goats" - what there is of it - is about how much these guys who have already lived so long can still change their ways. At Bob's urging, Britt - the real hero of this tale - gets his first computer and sets up a profile on a senior dating site, and soon hooks up with the alluring "lady in red."

Bob, meanwhile, has lived at least a life and a half, having been a bush pilot and quite the womanizer in his day, and now, as he's writing his memoirs, begins to wonder if (in his own words), he was an a$#hole. David is torn between his nagging wife, used to a life of cocktail parties and elegance, and these new friends who clearly just have a lot more fun.

This all plays out with a lot of humor, humanity and heart, and in case you can't yet tell, I loved it. I had no idea what to expect from this, and was just very pleasantly surprised. If you're in the Atlanta area, this will be screening again at the Atlanta Film Festival on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, so definitely catch it if you can. The trailer is below.

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This sounds really interesting. After watching 'Monsters' and 'Waste Land' (one fiction, one documentary) I'm seeing a lot of focus being put into quality low budget affairs where you get richness of characterisation and drama without actors, highly paid or otherwise. I couldn't believe 'Monsters' only had two paid actors - the director had got amazing performances out of the Mexican citizens he'd approached in the street to bulk out the movie. 'Waste Land' was a documentary, but the editing and the engagement with the brazilian waste pickers involved created amazing performances. I'm beginning to think this type of thing appeals to me easily as much as a high-budget, scripted affair - if it's done right. I'll definitely be checking out 'Old Goats'. Cheers for the heads-up!

Reel Fanatic said...

As long as it doesn't turn into a reality TV-type thing in which actors are replaced all the time, I find it fascinating, too ... it definitely adds a natural feel to movies

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