Sunday, February 15, 2009


(For your viewing pleasure, I recommend hovering over the arrow in the bottom-right corner of this video and clicking "HQ". After you've pressed play. You won't be regret it.)


Sounds dirty, right? Well it's not what you think. In fact, the word isn't dirty at all, at least not explicitly.

George Washington Winsterhammerman works at Jeffers Corporation. He is a visioneer--specifically, a Level Three Tunt. Like I said, it isn't an expressly dirty word, but it certainly is a degrading title.

[A note about Jeffers Corp.: "[T]he largest and most profitable corporation in the history of mankind," Jeffers Corp. is the omni-present, wildly oppressive, and apparently all-powerful company for which George--and seemingly every other employed soul in the film--works. Separation between Jeffers and the government is slim-to-none and it seems entirely possible that Jeffers is the only remaining company on Earth. What they actually do is never revealed or even hinted at.]

George leads what ought to be a satisfactory life. Attractive wife, check. Low-maintenance son, check. Bigger-than-necessary house, check. Boat, check. Gainful, ostensibly enviable employment, check. But George is not satisfied. And he certainly is not happy. And, worst of all, he's afraid he might explode. That's right, explode.

You see, Jeffers Corp. has run into a bit of a problem--an epidemic, if you will. People working for the company have begun to explode. As the rash of explosions spreads, George begins to wonder if he might be at risk. With this absurd premise as its jumping-off point, Visioneers tracks George's attempts to make sense of his life while simultaneously avoiding combustion (both figuratively and literally).

Written by Brandon Drake and directed by his brother Jared, both Washington natives, Visioneers was also shot in and around the Seattle-area, so it stood to reason that the film should make its debut at SIFF. I was fortunate enough to catch the World Premiere last June and was completely taken with the film. Like Shotgun Stories in '07, Visioneers was the cream of SIFF 2008.

When I first began to read about the film, and saw its trailer, I was sure that it would be hilarious but expected little more than laughs. I was happily surprised when, just a few minutes into the film, I found myself completely absorbed by the story; even the absurdist elements of the story became completely believable. Of course the film was as funny as expected, but it was also so much more. I found myself empathizing with George and saddened that simply having dreams beyond corporate conformation resulted in his being cast out and misunderstood not only by his company but by loved ones as well.

It's incredible to me that this is the first film under the belts of both Drake brothers. It can't be easy to execute a script of this nature so well that the audience not only laugh their heads off, but also buys the film's most outlandish metaphors. The Drakes certainly owe a lot to their able cast. Comedy god Zach Galifianakis is absolutely on-point as George Washington Winsterhammerman (and not at all over-the-top), as is Judy Greer as his loyal, if misunderstanding, wife. Supplement that pair with a number of underrated bit players and a handful of all-but-forgotten Seattle-area comedians and you've got yourself an unexpectedly apt troupe. All I can say is that everything came together as well as anyone could have hoped. The resultant movie is an incredibly dynamic absurdist dramedy which absolutely must be seen.

Here's where I tell you the (until further notice) bad news. Visioneers, as of this writing, is still without a distribution. As such, you can't see it. To my knowledge, only two of my readers (a couple of my dearest, I must add) have seen this film. But I sincerely believe that Visioneers has a good shot at getting somewhat significant distribution.

I assure you, fans: should you ever get the chance, you'll be glad you saw Visioneers. So you cross your fingers and I'll cross mine. With any luck, this movie will find its way to a theatre near all of us soon.

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