Saturday, June 22, 2013


C.O.G., dir. Kyle Patrick Alvarez, 2013, USA, 88 min. 
Saturday, June 22, 9:15 pm @ Castro

Samuel (Jonathan Groff) and
C.O.G. Jon (Denis O’Hare)
For the first time, noted essayist David Sedaris (booksNPR clips) has allowed one of his pieces to be adapted as a film. Samuel (Jonathan Groff, Glee’s Jesse St. James), a cocky Ivy League college boy, goes off to rural Oregon to be one with the working people, picking apples alongside migrant workers who speak little or no English. The original plan was to do this with his buddy Jennifer, but she abandons him, and yet he presses on, staying past the end of summer. He meets Jon (Denis O’Hare, True Blood’s Russell Edgington), a friendly leafletter who wants to know if Samuel is a fellow C.O.G., and Curly (Corey Stoll, Rep. Peter Russo on the U.S./Netflix version of House of Cards), a coworker in the apple packing plant who wants to be quite friendly. Dean Stockwell (Battlestar Galactica [2006], Quantum Leap, etc.) plays the owner of the orchard, rounding out the list of recognizable faces.

Samuel and Curly (Corey Stoll)
Samuel has an uneven ride, trying to make friends with the workers first in the orchard and then at the packing plant, but he has a series of misadventures that eventually leave him having a bit more of the “down on your luck” experience than he bargained for, leading him to seek help from an unlikely direction. The biggest problem I had with the film is that I had no visceral sense of why Samuel did much of anything he does in the course of the film, from running away to Oregon in the first place, to staying after the summer ends, to reaching out to unlikely friends, leaving me through much of the film feeling unengaged and only passingly interested in the story. Pretty good; tepidly recommended.

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