T Takes: Hartnett and Bubbles, Indie-Style

This year at Sundance, indie filmmaker Brody Baker took advantage of the fact that a large quantity of interesting actors were gathered together in a small snow-bound community, and used them to shoot a series of improvised shorts at a small Utah motel. These shorts, dubbed T Takes, are now being released online by the New York Times’ Style Magazine and are…well, they’re interesting.

In theory, these films are slow, awkward, and entrenched in mundanity — precisely the reason I don’t watch Jim Jarmusch films. But while the first piece in the series, starring Josh Hartnett, is stilted and dull, actors featured in later shorts take this pared-down approach and use it to exercise the full muscles of their craft (precisely the reason, I guess, that I should watch Jim Jarmusch films.)

The half-smile of Morena Baccarin (Firefly) in the midst of her OCD rituals and Andre Royo (Bubbles from The Wire) breaking down are just two of the treats this series offers. I admit that I was skeptical of a filmmaker with no prior credits (and who’s been described in the press as a “scenester”), but when paired with quality talent, Baker’s pieces are sweet, three-minute slices of life. Whether they will really add up to a complete story is up for debate. But after today’s oddly heartbreaking release, starring Jason Ritter, I’ll definitely be following T Takes to its conclusion.

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