Matt Farley is a comedian. He’s also a musician. And a filmmaker. An avid walker. He likes playing one-on-one basketball with his friend Soup, where the two pretend they are different classic NBA all-stars. Over the course of Local Legends, we get a guided tour of a somewhat fictionalized version of Farley’s life as he prepares for a comedy show, concert and navigates a love interest or two. It’s Matt Farley, by Matt Farley, starring Matt Farley.
To say that Matt Farley’s film is extremely self-aware would be an understatement; often the narration deconstructs and reconstructs what you’re watching in such a way that it’s like Farley is trying to anticipate every possible reaction to the film, and is thus pointing out things so that, in the off-chance others do too, he can say it was on purpose. It’s like the fat guy making a fat joke at his own expense before anyone else can; if he says it first, the power is removed from anyone else (I have been known to utilize this technique on many an occasion).
For example, some would watch this and say it’s tenuously held together by the thinnest of narrative threads, but really it’s just a self-promotional tool for Farley, his music, comedy, films and other endeavors. And I could see that take (albeit a little too cynical for my tastes), but the film addresses this point a number of times too. So, even if you feel that the film is just self-promotion, Farley himself has already stated that he doesn’t necessarily disagree with you.
At one point, as Farley is discussing how he wants to make a clever, Woody Allen-esque film that is entertaining but also promotes his music and the like, you can’t help but sit back and go, “well, you did it.” Success! Again, a clever move of self-definition.
But novelty aspects aside, either in relation to his music or even the creation and purpose of this very film, I can’t deny that Local Legends is extremely entertaining. When Farley is doing his comedy act, it’s actually funny. The subplots with needing a statistician for his one-on-one basketball match-ups, the distaste for a relationship with someone who thinks owning Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits is akin to actually owning all his albums, and the constant walking everywhere, paints a fun, peculiar picture. This could just as easily have been called Portrait of an Eccentric.
Visually, there is one sequence early on where it appears that things were filmed a little too dark for their own good (to be fair, it was set at night), and sometimes it seems like the focus might be a bit soft, but overall the black-and-white aesthetic works; it doesn’t come off as pretentious or artsy, it is fitting. It’s not a film full of visual flair, but that’s also not the type of story it’s telling. Composition is strong, the editing rhythm is tight… it’s put together well enough.
Overall, it doesn’t really matter what I write about this film, though. If you’re of the cynical mind, and see all this as the “Matt Farley Self-Promotion Show,” then, again, success! Good or bad, his name is all over this, the film is linked below, you can find everything else he does out there somewhere. Hell, he even freely shares his phone number in the film and online so give him a ring, see what happens: 603-644-0048.
Luckily, for me, I actually think this is a good film. It made me laugh, I enjoyed the music and I even enjoyed how insanely self-reverential it is. It even made me think fondly of Manchester, NH; as someone who went to high school in NH, ManchVegas is often more appreciated for its mall and airport than anything else, though now I’ll also think of its eccentric musician-comedian-filmmakers who might walk around listening to Red Sox games on their headphones.
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