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Atlanta FF: What Feed the Fish and NoNames have in common

April 30, 2010

When I was watching films from the impressive Atlanta Film Festival line up this year, one thing quickly stuck out: Barry Corbin.

In both Feed the Fish and NoNames, both small budget indie films shot in Wisconsin,  Barry Corbin starred. Both films are interesting and completely different but there he was, with an outstanding performance in both. I’ve always been a fan of Corbin, from his role as Uncle Bob in “Urban Cowboy” to Maurice on “Northern Exposure” and more recently in “That Evening Sun” and” No Country for Old Men.” But I was doubly impressed by seeing his face pop up over and over again at the Atlanta Film fest supporting up and coming filmmakers.

In “Feed the Fish,” Corbin plays Axel Anderson, the father of the local sheriff in a small Wisconsin town (played by Tony Shalhoub) who befriends the new stranger in town, an author Joe Peterson (played by Ross Partridge). Joe is burnt out from being a children’s book author and takes his friend JP (Michael Chernus) up on the journey to travel to the town so he can get ready for the big Polar Bear Plunge. Along the way, he meets Axel’s granddaughter, Sif (Katie Aselton) and the predictable romantic entanglements ensue, perked up only by the performances of Shalhoub and Corbin.

While the film isn’t groundbreaking, it is a fun comedy packed full of some quirky performances. Rather than making fun of their north mid-west ways (like New in Town did), the film has a lot of heart for the location. Having spent some time living in Minnesota after moving there from Los Angeles, it wasn’t hard to relate to Joe and his confusion on the way things work when a town’s social life seems to revolve around frozen water. The movie kept me engaged and I enjoyed the interplay between the three generations trying to live together in Wisconsin. All in all, a lighthearted comedy worth checking out. Plus, it was nice seeing Shalhoub as something besides Monk.

Corbin also produced “Feed the Fish.” The film is playing at a few festivals in June and then who knows where it goes, but you can keep checking on availability on their Facebook page.

In “NoNames,” Corbin has a much smaller role as Ed, a local employer to a bunch of 20-somethings trying to find their own life while drifting in a small town. Set in Wisconsin, the film also has Michael Chernus (JP from “Feed the Fish”). Gillian Jacobs (“Community”) is the girlfriend to main character, Kevin (James Badgett Dale, “Lord of the Flies”). The two struggle along with their group of friends against the confines of a small town with limited job prospects and an antagonist that sends them over the edge. Played by Jamie Harrold (“Flannel Pajamas” and quickly becoming one of my favorite actors out there), Jordan does the unspeakable against one of their own and they must fight back or lose face. But the film is about more than what is happening on the surface and really is a tough examination of the loss of childhood and forging your own way through life by creating your own family. For Kevin, this means breaking away from his father and what he wants for him to be part of a group that makes sense for his own life.

The film has some flaws and could do with a bit of polishing and tightening up around the edges of some of the scenes, but much like “Feed the Fish” has a strong sense of regionalism that gives us a glimpse into modern small town living.

The film plays Big Island Film Festival in May but you can follow along on Facebook to find out when it may play near you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 4:30 pm

    Barry was a pleasure to work with, great instincts, great sense of humor and great stories. He’s a pro.

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