Waterfront Film Festival

I Cover the Waterfront (Film Festival): Part 3

Welcome back to Part Three of our coverage of the 12th Annual Waterfront Film Festival. We’ve got another three movies to review today, so let’s just get right to the action.
The Extra ManThis comedy-drama comes to us from directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who co-directed American Splendor (The first movie I ever saw at the Waterfront!), and is based on the novel by Jonathan Ames (HBO’s Bored to Death). It’s a very strange movie that has me reconsidering some of the specifics even now.
Louis Ives (Paul Dano of There Will Be Blood) is a disgraced former English professor, thanks to an incident involving ladies’ underwear. He rents a room from Henry Harrison, an eccentric playwright (Kevin Kline) who moonlights as a gigolo. Not the Deuce Bigalow kind of gigolo, but a guy who accompanies wealthy society women to events. It’s a weird, tic-y performance that almost stray into Robin Williams territory, but just barely pulls back.
There are a lot of strange things going on here – Louis is increasingly obsessed with crossdressing, though increasingly afraid to actually try it. Henry seems to be weaving an elaborate web of lies, including his claim that a hunchback stole his play, but much of what he says ultimately turns out to be at least partially true. Of course, he also colors the lower part of his leg with a magic marker because he forgot to buy socks before a charity event. And then there’s downstairs neighbor Gershon, played by John C. Reilly in a full mountain-man beard. With Reilly’s recent comedy work, his very image onscreen is already sort of a visual joke, and when he finally speaks sometime in the second act, he has this high-pitched, squeaky voice that is much funnier than it should be.

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