Aaron Weinstein (as himself) is a jazz violinist in an age where most people haven’t heard of jazz violinists. Needing help to establish himself and book gigs, he finds representation with legendary entertainment agent Mel Howard (also Aaron Weinstein). Unfortunately for Aaron, Mel’s better days are long behind him, and their shared lunch meetings do little but showcase how ineffective at his job Mel has become over the years.
That’s the gist of Alex Beh’s short film, Lunches with Mel; Aaron and Mel meet for lunch, and very little is gained except a rise in Aaron’s exasperation with the well-meaning, but no longer all that successful, elderly agent. As you might suspect, the narrative is one-note, but the technical skills on display here are the real achievement.
It’s one thing to set up a premise where an actor not only plays two different characters, but also plays them opposite one another. Of course they’re separated by a very real distance, in this case across from one another at a table, but the film brilliantly blends the two sides of the image in such a way that they can seemingly encroach across the table. As if the technical challenges here weren’t hard enough, the film adds one more layer of difficulty, putting a mirror on the wall behind the table, which serves to technically elevate the scene that much more; not only do you get the reflections of the same actor playing two different characters, you don’t get the reflection of the camera itself.
Which helps you suspend disbelief, which you need to do, because Mel isn’t always all that convincing otherwise; this isn’t a case of intense make-up or performance to create a new character so much as Aaron in a wig and fake mustache. This serves the film well enough, but this isn’t the type of performance that is going to have awards thrown at it.
As far as the filmmaking goes, this film is aces. As far as the narrative goes, it’s forgettable. Luckily, it’s also only about six minutes long, so it’s no more abusive of a one-note joke than a sketch on Saturday Night Live can be. Still, I’d like to see the filmmaking skills given more narrative meat to work with, because there’s talent here that seems somewhat wasted in this scenario.
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