|Rain in the Mountains Press Coverage|
"Rain in the Mountains," a three-time film festival winning comedy from Stuyvesant Town filmmakers Joe Metlen and Christine Sullivan, is now available on DVD.
The film is fun, self assured low budget debut feature with a cast of non-professionals who, while in no danger of garnering a segment on "Inside the Actor's Studio" anytime soon, prove to be game enough to put over this nutty, silly, wisp of a story.
Following an encounter with a lynched, talking, moving dead man (believe me, it makes sense in context) Native American Eric Smallhouse realizes his destiny is teach his people the "old ways." Setting forth on his mission Eric soon finds himself awash in a Native American world, in the western part of Washington State, that is hopelessly and irrevocably modern. Not quite sure what the old was are, Eric consults a Native American elder wise man who offers Eric a "brewski" and complains that he cannot afford cable TV. When Eric's "traditional" aluminum canoe sinks, a fellow Native American offers Eric the use of his "decked out" motorboat.
Undaunted and determined to embrace the past, Eric goes buffalo hunting, only to shoot a neighbor's cow with a BB gun, sets a homemade teepee ablaze, nearly drowns trying to catch a fish and abandons his son by the roadside with instructions to have a "vision quest" (the kid hitches a ride home) all to the consternation of his long suffering wife Lindsay (Audrey Rose Seymour) who just wants Eric to get a job. So what's a frustrated traditionalist to do? Why take on that ultimate enemy of the "old ways," the electric company of course.
As Eric Smallhouse, Steve Pierre's comical expressions of surprise, consternation and despair, as one scheme after another backfires, certainly qualify him as cinema's first Native American schlemiel. I also liked Joseph Heldman as the eccentric, opportunistic dead man who tells Eric his destiny and Robert Satiacum as Deputy John, a tall, lumbering, large fellow who has the look and mannerisms of a low budget Jeff Garlin, of TV's "Curb your Enthusiasm" fame.
The DVD features include a directors' commentary track with Metlen and Sullivan, a virtual primer on low budget filmmaking. They talk about having to rewrite scenes in order to shoot around Pierre who suffered a severe stroke two thirds of the way through filming and could not finish the movie, although you would never know it from just watching the film. They also talk about working with non-professional actors, making the most of locations, including a barn that was turned into a convincing looking jail, and expound on the filming of uncooperative, camera shy cows.
In a movie season drenched in blood and violence, "Rain in the Mountains" is a nice change of pace whose theme writer/director Metlen accurately describes as being "idiocy." The fact that just about every character in the movie echoes this theme makes "Rain in the Mountains" a very funny and likeable film that, for what it may lack in "professional" polish, amply compensates with quirky, eccentric exuberance.