Fran Kranz

MTY Productions

It’s easy to overlook the Slamdance Film Festival while in Park City attending Sundance. But year after year, the smaller event up the hill increasingly proves its programming is worth paying attention to. Last year, Slamdance gave us the odd, ethically complicated documentary Kung Fu Elliot, which became a bit of a cult favorite and wound up at Fantastic Fest in the fall. My sudden most-anticipated selection from the 2015 Slamdance program is sure to head to Austin later this year, too. It’s called Bloodsucking Bastards, and I don’t think there’s any better way of describing its aesthetic than Flickchart’s comparison of “Office Space meets Shaun of the Dead.” Only instead of zombies, the heroes here have to deal with vampires. The metaphorical concept has to do with how working at an office is “soul-killing,” as the synopsis puts it. Not that such a layer of meaning matters, because I don’t think this will be on the level of satirical brilliance of Edgar Wright’s zom-rom-com, but I’m just curbing my expectations for now on something by people I’m unfamiliar with, such as director Brian James O’Connell. Honestly, before seeing Shaun of the Dead back in 2004, I would have thought it looked cool but not necessarily like a contender for one of the best films of the year, let alone decade. Meanwhile, there are a surprising amount of great vampire comedies lately, between What We Do in the Shadows and Only Lovers Left Alive, so eventually something’s gotta disappoint. Hopefully it’s […]


Gravitas Ventures

Clinton Moisey (Fran Kranz) is something of a simpleton. He lives at home with his mother (Blythe Danner) where he operates a daily yard sale table selling toys, comic books and self-made action figures. His attempt at making something of himself — a corner comic shop with zero clientele — closed after six months, and while anyone could see the problem was his lack of motivation Clinton sees it a bit differently. It was a man named Ford (Greg Kinnear) who killed his shop by opening a megastore nearby. Sure the megastore doesn’t sell comics, but that’s not really the point as far as Clinton is concerned. He awakes one morning after drowning his sorrows with a marathon session of Who’s the Boss? episodes to find his beloved cat Mouser dead in the street. This was no accident though as a crossbow bolt had been shot through the cat’s heart. No one, including the local sheriff (J.K. Simmons), seem to be taking the murder as seriously as he is, so he sets off on his own to find the killer. The problem of course, is that he’s something of a simpleton. Murder of a Cat is a comedy first and murder mystery second-ish, but what it lacks in the latter it makes up for with the former.


Its not you its me

Why Watch? Aggressively well-crafted, this short from Matt Spicer uses invasive sound and camera design to make a dull life maddening before kicking it over the edge. Gillian Jacobs plays a young woman trapped in a crushingly mundane existence with an out-of-work boyfriend (Fran Kranz), but when she lets things get out of hand, it’s time to pack some very special suitcases. Everything here is first-rate, including the gut-punching comic story. Spicer and the team do something magical by using structured bits of disorientation to make the first shock pop like a starting pistol. From there it’s an intentionally jerky ride that alters the boring daily grind by erasing the rules. It also treats the Falling Down-style outburst and its consequences with a guilty sense of humor, so you may need to train your face to drop its jaw and smile at the same time before you see it. While many short films strive to be visual punch lines, It’s Not You, It’s Me manages to pull off a handful while delivering great characters and chaotic atmosphere as a bonus.



Since audiences feasted their eyes on The Cabin in the Woods earlier this year, many have waited for the day they could listen to the commentary. To hear Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon wax nostalgic on horror and let us in on the secrets behind the making of this highly inventive movie would truly be a joy. Now, the DVD/Blu-Ray has been released for this film that’s sure to be on a number of top 10 lists, and not just those of horror fans. So sit back, click off the lights – your computer should light up enough so you can read – and check out all the things we learned listening to this commentary for The Cabin in the Woods. Cue the harbinger.


Much Ado About Nothing TIFF

What can one truly say about Shakespeare? He’s a writer whose work has survived centuries of history, and his stories are still being adapted, both directly and indirectly. While his dramatic work is what’s most delved into by filmmakers, his comedies are what’s most fascinating. The plot of Much Ado About Nothing centers on Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) serving as matchmaker to a few lovers in waiting. Pedro’s job involves matching not only the compliant, Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), but also the not so compliant, Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof). He sees what many do not and with the use of a few simple tricks to help push each couple in the right direction, he’s able to create a scenario in which love finds its way. Not focused on depth, Joss Whedon‘s take offers comedy gag after gag, and there’s barely any time when a joke doesn’t land perfectly. It helps to have the likes of Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Denisof and Kranz in your cast. The actor spotlight begins early in the film, where a character calls for music, they turn to the iPod and Gregg starts swaying – creating an inextricably funny moment solely from his expression intertwined with his movement. So many comedies are unable to have more than a handful of memorable moments like this, but Much Ado About Nothing has dozens.


Cabin in the Woods

Genre dissections like The Cabin in the Woods are risky ventures. When filmmakers are clearly intent on both telling a story and offering a self-reflexive statement, there’s a significant chance that one impulse could overwhelm the other. The possible results — an ineffectual drama or a suffocating, pretentious satire — are not pleasant. So it’s fortunate that Cabin director/co-writer Drew Goddard, working closely with producer/fellow writer Joss Whedon, manages the tricky balancing act. His long-awaited horror movie, which has sat on the shelf for more than two years thanks to upheaval at original distributor MGM, is smart and fun, packing unexpected surprises while cleverly recalibrating genre expectations. The film’s about a group of five archetypal college friends — among them the jock figure (Chris Hemsworth), the stoner (Fran Kranz) and the “virgin” (Kristen Connolly) — who head to an isolated cabin for the proverbial weekend getaway. Naturally, something goes terribly wrong while they’re there, but it’s surely not what you think.



Drew Goddard’s highly anticipated horror film The Cabin in the Woods goes into wide release this weekend, and everyone should make a point to see it. Forget The Hunger Games; this is the cinematic experience of the spring that should drive people to the theaters. By now, you’ve read a lot – possibly too much – about The Cabin in the Woods, and everyone from the director and studio to fans on Twitter are complaining about spoilers flying through the interwebs. In the interest of keeping secrets secret, here are seven spoiler-free reasons to see The Cabin in the Woods this weekend.


I knew that there would be something to love about Joss Whedon’s new show Dollhouse. And now, thanks to a clip that debuted over on Entertainment Weekly, I know exactly what it is — genetically engineered, secret organization controlled call girls that look like Eliza Dushku.

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published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.25.2015

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