Review: ‘MASS’ is a stunning master class in writing and performance.

MASS

Years after an unspeakable tragedy tore their lives apart, two sets of parents (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) agree to talk privately in an attempt to move forward. In Fran Kranz’s writing and directing debut, he thoughtfully examines their journey of grief, anger and acceptance by coming face-to-face with the ones who have been left behind.


In Mass, indie genre actor Fran Kranz steps into the writer-director role with an ease that is mind-boggling. It’s one of the most stunning feature debuts I’ve ever witnessed. The script is impeccably researched. As a mother who shakes each time a breaking news headline pops up on my phone, as a senior in high school when Columbine occurred, Mass hits on an entirely different level. Kranz helps us see the unseeable. He carefully weaves small pieces of information into a quilt so heavy we are left breathless. There is nothing sugarcoated about Mass. It’s one of the most intimate and emotionally accosting films I’ve ever experienced.

Jason Isaacs takes a logical approach as Jay. The arc of Kranz’s writing allows Isaacs to break this role wide open. It was akin to watching a teapot slowly come to a boil. Ann Dowd plays Linda. She is gentle, hesitant, and genuine in her grief and guilt. It feels like she’s trying too hard to appease and remain compassionate. Dowd’s best moments are when she’s in tune with Reed Birney. As Richard, Birney counters Dowd’s apologetic energy. He is defensive at every turn, to the point of unlikability. It’s his survival mechanism. Birney wears an air of toxic masculinity like a badge of honor. Martha Plimpton plays Gail with thoroughly justifiable guarded anger. She is seeking ownership and responsibility from Linda and Richard. Her pointed line of questioning makes her intentions clear as day. Plimpton owns every glance, sigh, and raw syllable uttered in Mass. It’s an entire emotional journey right before our eyes. It’s a performance that captivates. The chemistry between these four actors is something so rare. They understood the assignment, as they say.

The quiet, lingering moments in the first 20 minutes of the film are meticulously crafted to keep you stewing in anticipation of the inevitable storm to come. The entire film has a low registering hum and a palpable heaviness. As the plot is slowly revealed, politics seep into the conversation. The aftermath of trauma and grief are front and center. The discussion of mental health will echo in many households. The included social pleasantries on either end establish a grounded aspect, but it is that final unexpected 10 minutes that hit hardest. It’s a visceral catharsis. This is a master class in writing and performance. I would watch this on stage in a heartbeat. Mass is a portrait of four parents dealing with unthinkable loss. The most powerful aspect is the understanding that this conversation could be happening any day of the week nowadays. This is an emotional rollercoaster you cannot be prepared for. Mass brilliantly challenges the perspectives of cause and effect, blame, acceptance, forgiveness, life and death, and what parenthood means, deep in your soul. You will walk away changed.


Written & Directed by: Fran Kranz
Starring: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton


Mass is currently playing in select cities.

Review: ‘BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS’ we all know a few.

BloodSuckingBastards.Poster We’ve all been there at one time or another. Sitting in a cubicle, or the like, wanting  desperately to staple a co-worker’s mouth shut or just whiteout our own eyes. But we think, hey, if I work hard enough, I’ll get that  promotion and maybe, just maybe, this won’t suck as much as I think it does. Welcome to BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, where all  your daydreams and nightmares come true.

Meet Evan Sanders (Fran Kranz), a low-level, dutiful employee stuck in a boring job at a soul-killing every corporation. Evan’s the kind of guy who does all the work and gets none of the credit, but at least he gets to spend his days with his beautiful co-worker/girlfriend Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick) and his slacker best friend Tim (Joey Kern), so he soldiers on in the hope of one day getting his coveted sales director position. Unfortunately, it all falls apart in one fell swoop when Amanda breaks up with him and Evan’s boss Ted (Joel Murray) hands his promotion to his college nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal). And it isn’t just their sordid past Evan has to deal with. After his fellow officemates start going through disturbing changes (which, paradoxically, make them better employees) and bodies begin to pile up, Evan learns the horrible truth: Max is a vampire. And even worse… a vamp with a plan. Evan must find a way to stop the evil brewing amidst the cubicles, expose Max as the bloodsucking bastard that he is, and save his pals before his life and career go from dead-end…to just dead.BSBEmmaFitzpatrickFranKranzJoeyKernIMG_2684

This film can best be described as Office Space meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the film version. But it isn’t a far stretch to say Joss Whedon‘s television series wouldn’t fall into this fandom, as well. Once again, Whedonverse darling, Fran Kranz steals the show. His innocent air is perfect for this role. Wide-eyed naivete leads a pack of misfits on a battle to keep their heads (or necks) intact. Marshall Givens as the badass, Redbull fueled, security guard is an absolute riot. Where has he been? Joey Kern plays Evan’s #2, Tim. He is a king underachiever. Pornstache and all, his nonchalant attitude is the perfect foil to Kranz’s hyperactivity. Emma Fitzpatrick as Evan’s recent ex and head of HR, is quick witted and sassy, She kills it.The opening titles kick some major ass and the film’s pace pulls no punches. If you’re a fan of Shaun of the Dead, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS is right up your alley. You can catch this film today, September 4th, in select theaters and on VOD.

Directed by Brian James O’Connell and penned by the popular comedy troupe Dr. God and Ryan Mitts, Bloodsucking Bastards recently made its world premiere as the opening night film at the Slamdance Film Festival 2015.

Starring:

Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods)

Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones)

Emma Fitzpatrick (Significant Mother, The Collection)

Yvette Yates (Inherent Vice)

Joel Murray (Mad Men)

Joey Kern (Cabin Fever)

 

Liz’s Review: ‘MURDER OF A CAT’ is a quirky suburban noir.

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I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a weird gal. It’s fine. It’s sort of my thing. I like what I like and I’m proud of it. That being said, if someone killed my best friend, I’d hunt them down like the scoundrels they are. (Prime example, I use words like scoundrel in regular conversation). In the new film MURDER OF A CAT, Clinton (Fran Kranz) also, a bit of a weirdo, finds his beloved cat-friend brutally murdered. It is his moral duty to find out who, what, when, where, and why.

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