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Sundance Review: Bass Ackwards (2010) ***

January 25, 2010

Written by: Linas Phillips, Jim Fletcher, and Davie-Blue

Produced by: Thomas Woodrow

Directed by: Linas Phillips

Not Rated

101 min

U.S. Release Date: January 2010 (Sundance Film Festival: NEXT Category)

Bass Ackwards is a semi-autobiographical story starring Linas Phillips, a transient twenty-or-thirtysomething who is failing to build a stable life for himself on the West coast.  After spending months crashing at friends’ places and even working on a farm for room and board, Linas decides to hop in the “Shorty” (a 1976 Volkswagen van) that his farmer employer gave him, and head back to his home in Boston to regroup.  What seems like another quirky Sundance road trip film quickly becomes something special as Linas’s trip commences.

The trip begins with Linas making one last attempt to solidify a secret relationship that he has with Georgia, a spoken-for woman that never quite seems to give as much of her heart as Linas does his.  Linas pleads with Georgia to come with him, but she declines.  With no more strings attached to the West, Linas takes to the road.

Along the way, Linas engages in interactions with many different types of people.  His apparent lack of skill in reading human social cues seems to disarm many of the people he talks to.  Sometimes, this gets him into a bit of trouble, as one night he strikes up pleasant conversation with a woman in a bar and her boyfriend doesn’t like it too much.  Outside the bar, Linas locks himself in “Shorty” to keep the boyfriend at bay.  The next morning, he wakes up to a man knocking on his window, but because he seems to trust first, he opens the door to Jim, a man who is looking to get back to the East coast as well.  In the case with Jim, as in most other cases in this film, Linas’s incessant questions break down Jim’s walls as the two build a close bond.

In a combination of scripted scenes, improvisation, and cinema vérité (completely unscripted, stylized documentary), Jim and Linas make their way across the country.  Their trip is divided up into several chapters as they meet different people in different walks of life.  The road serves as a place of cleansing for Linas, where he works to find a new perspective on life.  One of the taglines of the film sums Bass Ackwards up very nicely (as it should), “You never really know what’s around the next turn, but it might just turn out to be great.”

It is exciting to see Sundance inject some life back into the festival in 2010 with the introduction of the NEXT category, of which Bass Ackwards is a part.  The NEXT category includes films made by filmmakers that might not have otherwise had a chance to screen at the festival in years past.  There is a budget limit on the selected films, but it is next to nothing.  As a promotion for this new category, Sundance has released this film into several different unorthodox distribution channels.  Bass Ackwards is available on YouTube for rent, for purchase at the iTunes Store, and will soon be available through cable on-demand programs across the country.  I am excited to see what the future holds for Linas Phillips.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. windi permalink
    January 26, 2010 3:28 pm

    sounds interesting. The kind of movie that I’d stay up and watch some night after Matt goes to work, because he probably wouldn’t like it! 🙂

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