I saw Breakfast with Curtis (2012) last night. It’s delightful, a charming ultra-low-budget film using mostly non-actors and shot in two neighboring houses in Providence. It’s easy to see why it’s become something of an underground hit.
I’d point you toward some footage, but the trailers for the movie make it look like some terrible formulaic indie film, which is exactly what it isn’t. I’m glad I didn’t watch them first; they really don’t do it justice. (They’re like the Shining trailer.)
If I had to say whose work the film reminds me of, I might say Jim Jarmusch, Agnès Varda, David Gordon Green, Richard Linklater, and Hayao Miyazaki—but much more underground and low-key than any of them (yes, even Jarmusch). The whole thing is deftly plotted and structured, with a sweet and gentle tone maintained throughout. Everyone in it is acting, playing what are apparently thinly-veiled versions of their real selves, but the film as a whole feels natural and slack. And yet the movie is also pleasantly stilted and awkward at the same time. It’s not Mumblecore, in that it’s more hippie than hipster, but I can see why some might make that comparison. And it’s similar to Linklater’s Boyhood in some ways, but more offbeat/eccentric—plus its scope is much, much smaller (a single summer).
Particularly worth mentioning is Theo Green’s performance as Syd, the aging hippie bookseller who’s constantly drunk on cheap red wine. Apparently some are now calling him “the Lebowski of Providence.” I hope he appears in more movies. (Lunch with Curtis?) You can see him in a series of YouTube videos he made with costar Jonah Parker (who plays Curtis): Breakfast with Theo, which partly inspired the feature. Snippets of that series appear in Breakfast with Curtis—but the feature is not anything like the shorts.
Breakfast with Curtis is easily one of the best new films I’ve seen this year. Highly recommended! Here’s the film’s official site, where you can view one of the aforementioned trailers, and buy a copy of the entire film if you’re so inclined.