Monday, 26 August 2019

Madness In The Method

Methadone Actor

Madness In The Method
2019 USA Directed by Jason Mewes
screening at FrightFest 24th August 2019.

Okay, so my second feature at this year’s Arrow Fright Fest (now in its 20th year) was a much more positive experience for me than Ghost Killers VS Bloody Mary (which I reviewed here).

Madness In The Method is the directorial debut of actor Jason Mewes, who most people would best know as Jay to director Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob. This one was a blast and though I was initially skeptical of this guys ability to helm something like this, given his on and off screen personae and how easy it is to be fooled into thinking the character created by Kevin Smith based on Mewes,,, and Mewes himself... are one and the same, I found myself very pleasantly surprised at how good this was. Of course, since I am already an admirer of the duo in all their big screen appearances (I even forced myself to watch Scream 3 just to catch their cameo), I am part, of a ready made target audience and, although this movie wasn’t written by Jason himself (I suspect he had a fair amount of input in that process, credited or not), it’s actually a kind of mockumentary fantasy written about him.

Right from the outset, fact is blended with fiction as Mewes fills us in on just who he is and charts both his career path with Kevin Smith (done with some nice animated Jay and Silent Bob inserts) and his various trouble with substance abuse in one form or another. We learn about his former trade as a roofer and how tough it was for him growing up etc. And... I suspect it’s one of those films which Hollywood loves where fact and fiction are blended. The film is full of cameos, some as major roles such as Vinnie Jones and others falling somewhere in between that and what is, in this movie, Stan Lee’s final cameo performance. So, for example, both Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, the two title character actors from TV’s Lois And Clark - The New Adventures Of Superman, have recurring roles in this.

It’s a bit like Fellini’s great masterpiece Eight And A Half, only filtered through a young Hollywood vibe.... in terms of the central character, Mewes playing a fictional version of himself who very consciously wants to crawl out from his stoner typecasting in which he finds himself trapped and reading a not so mythical book about Method Acting before ‘really’ getting into the ‘killer’ mindset of his latest role. I should probably also mention Paul Mazursky’s 1970 movie Alex In Wonderland as a kindred spirit to this film also... but I haven’t seen it myself (or I have and it's been so long I've forgotten it) so I’ll just drop that here in passing.

Okay, so this is a film which never gets dull and explores Mewes’ ‘descent into the method’ as he turns from accidental murderer to, by the end of the film, something else entirely. This is not a horror movie rather than a comedy thriller with the emphasis firmly on the comedic (so I don’t know why it’s playing at FrightFest but I’m certainly not complaining) but it is quite impressive and I especially liked the way the film is edited. Mewes calls some nice cuts here and, although it annoyed me at first, there’s good use made of a little, rotating, ball of Mewes’ head bouncing off the sides of his computer on a screensaver which shouts his catchphrase ‘Snootchy Bootchies’ every time it hits a side of the screen, used to punctuate the structure of the film and to show time and location shifts in the narrative... which is, by its nature, quite freestyle.

I also loved the idea that Brian O’ Halloran, who played Dante Hicks in three of the Jay And Silent Bob movies to date, plays himself as a director who is about to direct a large budget, major Hollywood production of Homer’s The Odyssey. It was genuinely nice to see this guy again although he is in a somewhat darker story here. And like I said, this film is full of cameos from the likes of Danny Trejo, Judd Nelson and even Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith. There’s also an interesting performance by a modern character actor (future Elisha Cook Jr in the making?) called Mickey Gooch Jr, who plays a handle-barred moustached detective obsessed by his suspicion that it is, indeed, Mewes who is behind the killings in the movie. He’s pretty good in the movie but he was even better in the Q and A before the movie, regaling the audience with his tales of the production, which is obviously set in LA but had its shooting locations split between LA and Derbyshire, here in the UK. A very entertaining fellow, despite his choice of head gear.

Oddly, Kevin Smith himself comes off as a little of a darker version of what I perceive to be his true life persona here. However, I’m pretty sure this is one of a few deliberate deviations from real life, especially when Mewes and Moobs (Smith) do the lion face, lemon face routine from Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. Also, it’s kind of a dead giveaway that this is definitely portraying a heavily fictionalised scenario bearing in mind the final fate of Vinnie Jones in the movie, which is actually pretty funny, I thought.

So there you have it. Turns out Mr. Mewes can actually direct pretty well, as well as act and, cannily, put together a movie which, in spite of its free form narrative style, holds together very well as a coherent, linear story. Whether it will actually get any kind of physical home media release over here in the UK is anybody’s guess but, if it does, I’ll certainly be shelling out to have another look at Madness In The Method, for sure. So now looking forward to the next film in my 2019 FrightFest experience, The Banana Splits Movie. Review to follow in a couple of days.

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