Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

An audio program about movies. Listen with your iPod or computer.

Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.

Robert Murphy
Sara Simmonds and Scoot McNairy in In Search of a Midnight Kiss

“Misanthrope seeks misanthrope” is the craigslist personals ad that Wilson, a screenwriter recently arrived in L.A., places the day before New Year’s Eve. Vivian is the blonde, unemployed starlet who answers his ad and bullies him into a date just hours before the clock strikes midnight. In Search of a Midnight Kiss is the movie that follows these two cynical but hopeful romantics through the streets of Los Angeles. It has the problems that afflict many an indie dramedy, but it also captures a certain vibe that’s winning and affecting.

The film does not start well. Our protagonist (played by Scoot McNairy in an adequate performance) is caught masturbating in the living room ... to a photoshopped nude picture of his roommate’s girlfriend ... and he’s caught by the roommate who finds the situation more comical than creepy ... and the girlfriend finds it “sweet.” Hmmm.

There are other moments in the film that don’t ring true. At one point Wilson and Vivian stand on an empty proscenium stage improvising a play. I don’t need to tell you that the skit is their cute way of working out their relationship. But writer/director Alex Holdridge must think he’s got something special, because the scene drags on and on.

Yet much of the movie has a different ring, of authenticity. I’ve only spent three days in L.A., but this movie is how I imagine the place to be. Despite the film’s low budget, the black-and-white street cinematography (courtesy of Robert Murphy) is well used, and Holdridge creates a sense of place that’s critical to the subtle desperation both Wilson and Vivian feel. And while some of the dialogue falls flat (it’s not clear whether the script or the lack of retakes is to blame), other scenes have a quiet power. I particularly like a morning-after sequence, as two people try to figure out what happens next.

Even in low-budget films, the actresses are usually attractive, a reminder that there are an awful lot of beautiful women struggling to make it in Hollywood. Fortunately, Sara Simmonds is more than a pretty face. She gives a standout performance as the brash but ultimately vulnerable Vivian. The chemistry she finds with McNairy builds as the movie closes in on midnight, with both leads beautifully conveying the emptiness that loneliness can bring. The secondary characters aren’t quite as interesting, and the story gives way too much time to Vivian’s hysterically angry ex-boyfriend. But when it’s just Wilson and Vivian trying to make it till “Auld Lang Syne,” I was happy to root for ‘em.

2 Responses to “In Search of a Midnight Kiss”

  1. Rowen says:

    This movie is horrible. I seriously can't believe that you found as much good in it as you did. Was it tough for you to write such an "upbeat" review for such a trite little film? The acting was horrible. Scoot McNairty pulled his own, but Robert Murphey was ridiculous. Watching Sara Simmonds made me think of those silly training films that employees at 7 eleven are made to watch -- all high pitched and so obviously underspoken. Her voice was puke worthy. At times it was rough and then she would try to be "sweet" with a high pitch fakeness. The other were barely memorable.

  2. Katerina says:

    This movie was such a waste of time. It was also poorly filmed. It was disgustingly boring and un original.All the actors suck!!I hated this poor rip off of Before Sunrise.

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