Marvin, Seth and Stanley

Marvin, Seth and Stanley

Marvin, Seth and Stanley (Director: Stephen Gurewitz): At this point, I’m sure I’d see any­thing with Alex Karpovsky in it. He brings intens­ity to everything he does, and is usu­ally the most mag­netic pres­ence on the screen. He’s also a tal­en­ted writer and dir­ector of his own work (the crim­in­ally-under­seen Woodpecker (review) for instance). I first dis­covered his act­ing work in Lovers of Hate (review) and have been try­ing to see him in stuff ever since.

To be fair, when I say he brings intens­ity, I’m usu­ally say­ing he plays someone who’s a bit of an asshole. That’s cer­tainly true here. As Seth, the mar­gin­ally more suc­cess­ful of two estranged broth­ers, he seems eager to leave his humble roots behind. Both he and younger brother Stanley (played by writer-dir­ector Stephen Gurewitz, look­ing a little bit like a young Robert DeNiro) live in Los Angeles, where Seth seems to work some­where “in the industry” while Stanley tries to get an act­ing career going. They’re not close, and are only back home in Minnesota to see their father (Stephen’s real-life father Marvin Gurewitz), who’s some­how guilted them into going on a camping/fishing trip with him. It’s awk­ward from the very start. Marvin seems like a nice guy, but in a nebbishy kind of way. For instance, he hides the fact from his sons that he’s work­ing at an unchal­len­ging job at a dairy, long after they assume he must be retired. Stephen is an inef­fec­tual chip off the old block, while Seth aggress­ively bul­lies the other two in an effort to feel super­ior. None of them seem like the camp­ing type.

As the week­end wears on, and their plans con­tinu­ally go awry, it becomes clear that Seth’s mar­riage is com­ing apart. And des­pite the fact he’s with his two closest rel­at­ives, he’s unable to get any­thing from them. These are like three people who just seemed to end up in the same fam­ily ran­domly. Certainly the absence of their mother (divorced from their dad) or any other female pres­ence accen­tu­ates their male lack of com­mu­nic­a­tion skills. Alcohol seems to be Seth’s tool of choice, but it never really works to con­nect the three men. There’s a Cassavetes feel to the scen­ario, primar­ily due to Karpovsky’s unpre­dict­ab­il­ity and the hand­held 16mm cam­er­a­work.

There’s humour of the win­cing kind, but over­all this is a por­trait of sad­ness. It felt a lot like Cassavetes’ Husbands (review) to me, just in the way that these men have no idea how to express to each other the ter­rors they’re feel­ing. They simply lack the vocab­u­lary. In the end, Seth tries to express a little bit of ten­der­ness toward his brother and father, but ends up resort­ing to the shock tac­tics he’s always relied on.


Marvin, Seth and Stanley is screen­ing on Friday February 8th as part of Fucked Up’s Long Winter series of events at the Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West). Doors open at 7pm, the movie will screen at 7:30pm with music fol­low­ing dir­ectly after the film from the likes of Fucked Up, Holy Fuck, The Sadies, Kids on TV, Maylee Todd, Odonis Odonis and Rituals. Incredibly, the event is PWYC (Pay What You Can). If I wasn’t going to be out of town, you can bet I’d be there. You cer­tainly should!

RSVP via the Facebook event page

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