“The Combover” is a short documentary by and about two underage teenagers who discover a crack in the system – they discover a way to buy beer. I made this with my friend Justin in the year 2000. We were both 19 at the time, bored out of our minds. There wasn’t much for us to do in our hometown of Warwick, New York. Warwick is a beautiful, rural place. It is the Shire to New York City’s Gondor, and <insert New Jersey city here>’s Mordor. But we were restless teenagers trying hard to get beer. We concocted the combover idea one night in Justin’s basement.
We were mulling about, and Justin asked me to shave his head bald. I suggested we mess around with it first, since we’re going to shave it all off anyway. There were lot of possibilities with long hair. Mohawk? Mullet? The “Krusty the Klown” look? “A COMBOVER!” We laughed so damn hard our sides hurt. The combover has got to be the most RIDICULOUS hairstyle of all time, we had to do it. It dawned on us that the combover is the perfect misdirection for buying beer. The question became this: Would a cashier believe a kid-trying-to-look-older-trying-to-look-younger as a man-trying-to-look-younger? Would pity blind the gawkers?
I’ve always been a filmmaker, and I wanted to make it a movie. I got the camcorder my parents gave me in high school, a SONY Handycam Video 8 XR with 180x Digital Zoom. Battle plan ready, I proceeded to cut Justin’s hair, giving birth to a healthy 7 1/2 lb. combover in his parent’s bathroom. I’ll never forget how Mrs. Kipp freaked when she saw what I had done to her son’s head, or how hard we laughed afterwards. It is an All-Time Top Five Laugh for me.
After finding the appropriate wardrobe and accessories (superfluous pipe, check, Mike’s glasses, check), we worked on getting into character. How would a 38-year-old man with a comb-over behave? Naturally, he would be a somewhat pathetic, trying to hold onto his fading youth. He would certainly not like being denied his only comfort in an otherwise lonely existence – that sweet, numbing booze. Whether we got it or not became irrelevant. We were buzzed from the adrenaline of making a film.
What up Korea!
Towards the end of the night, we decided that one more denial would send Uncle Earl into a rage. We already had all the beer we needed, and we didn’t want our video to become redundant. We needed some drama. And when that denial came, Justin snapped in a spectacularly hilarious fashion. Dick move? Sure. Funny? You bet. But I suppose it’s a rorschach blot. Places where drinking laws are similarly Draconian will get the joke. America: the country where a teenager can be sent to war to kill and be killed, but doesn’t have the right to drink until three years after enlisting. Yeah, that makes sense. I withheld this video from public view for years; only a handful of people ever saw it. Now that a decade has past, “The Combover” is finally ready to see the light of day, thanks to New York Statute of Limitations Laws.
I love New York.
This video remains unchanged from the original in-camera edit 10 years ago. When I shot this back in 2000, I really didn’t know any way to edit VHS tapes. I edited simultaneously with shooting, all in-camera. I could review the footage and rewind the tape to find the right cue, or exit point. It was definitely fun to shoot. I particularly love the music in the car. It made us bolder, and gave the shoot a sense of rhythm and time. The album: Pee Wee Ellis’ “Twelve and More Blues,” with Bruce Cox on drums and Dwayne Dolphin on bass. A great album but hard to find, recorded in Köln, Germany – Minor Records, 1993. And again for all you knuckleheads out there, please don’t drink and drive – this is a documentary, not a mandate.
***”My original post of “The Combover” has copyright claims levied against it by predatory ad revenue businesses. They claim 30 seconds of background source music overheard in a supermarket gives them the right to put advertising on my video. I am trying to keep this video advertisement free. This version of “The Combover” is edited, removing said source music and audio of heard in the supermarket scene from 2:25 – 3:02.***
Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” – Review by Michael McVey
Originally Published in The Irish Emigrant, July 19, 2010
With the huge global success of The Dark Knight, filmmaker Christopher Nolan was given carte blanche to develop his next project for Warner Bros Studios. The result: this summer’s Inception, is an intricately plotted heist/epic set in the world of dreams. Most studio films with enormous budgets ($150 mil!) are designed to play for broad audiences, using recycled plots and characters. Nolan has delivered an unusual and welcome challenge to the status quo. Inception is thrilling, different.
It features a terrific ensemble cast lead by Leonardo DiCaprio, leading both his dream team and audiences through a labyrinthine plot. Inception expands on the visual stateliness Nolan has developed in his other unconventionally structured films, such as Memento, Insomnia, and The Prestige. We get many staples of big budget, tent-pole fare: Action set-pieces, explosions, grand special effects, big movie stars with killer wardrobe. And while it is entertaining, this movie stands out among the studio releases for having a bit more on its mind than explosions. This is a film that challenges audiences, yet is still watchable even if you get lost along the way. Though I’ve only seen it once, I suspect this movie gets better every time you see it. Nolan focuses many of his cinematic tropes on the nature of reality, perception and the power of the mind – as it is the ideas that are the true stars of Inception. I just wonder how he explained the plot to those Warner Bros studio execs!
Here’s the trailer we’ve all been watching over and over. This my wind up being the best, if not most watched trailer of the year. If you’ve seen the movie and dug the score, then you’re gonna love the second video.
Update: I saw Inception three times in July, once mit Bronwyn und Stefan. I taped their thoughts the next evening. Stefan is very passionate about his views. Video taken during Boston’s Annual Shakespeare in the Park – 2010. We were chilling for Othello, starring Seth Gilliam, aka Carter from “The Wire.”