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By Ashley Cooper | April 2, 2002

Another product of the highly successful and prolific Zellner brothers, “Rummy” constitutes their contribution to the “Six in Austin” compilation of short films. An homage to the little known “Six in Paris” collection of French New Wave films, “Six in Austin” features six films from the film community of Austin, Texas. Though I was unable to view the rest of these films, if they bare any resemblance to “Rummy”, I’ll take a pass.

“Rummy” follows the story of a jilted lover, Sam, and the ex-girlfriend, Lacey, that he stalks in his lunch hour. One day Sam happens to come across Lacey walking their old dog, Rummy, in a park. The overly exuberant Sam runs up saying how good it is to see her and the dog, who he calls “Choo-Choo”. Eventually, and I say eventually as this scene drags, Lacey and Sam go their separate ways. Yet Sam, still bitter about Lacey’s dumping him two and a half years prior, soon chases his ex down again. What follows from here is an even more protracted scene as Sam wants to talk about their old relationship while Lacey just wants to get away.

Finally we’re given some hint of life as Sam notices that Choo-Choo’s collar now reads, “Rummy”. When confronted on the matter, Lacey explains that she always hated the name, “Choo-Choo” so she and her new boyfriend renamed the dog. Furious that she did this to the pet they got together, Sam runs off with Rummy and jumps in his car to drive off. When Lacey catches up a heated exchange follows culminating in Lacey’s breaking Sam’s car window with a rock she finds by the roadside. Sam can’t have this, so he gets out of his car and tries to similarly break the window of Lacey’s car, which he had conveniently parked next to. The problem is, Sam can’t seem to break her window. After what seems like his twentieth attempt, Sam gives up and drives away saying he’ll return Choo-Choo in another two and a half years.

A key aspect of French New Wave films was their elongated scenes empathizing the tension and awkwardness of the characters. In contrast, “Rummy” comes across like a botched Dogma 95 attempt. Or maybe an entry into one of those make a movie in 48 hours contests that lacked the time for sufficient editing. Regardless, this short fails to reveal anything of the human condition- a primary goal of this genre.

But perhaps this movie is intended as one big joke rather than conveying anything of depth. Knowing that the Zellner brothers are the gods of indie humor, you have to consider it a possibility. However, by indie humor I mean something along the lines of the Cohen brothers or Tim Burton, but even more ill defined and without any possibility of laughter. For example, in the final scene it’s unclear whether the filmmakers for Sam to be unable to break the glass or if it was just a mistake the actors did their best to improv around. While I was watching it I’m thinking, “Man, that guy who played Sam is a real wuss. The actress opposite him would probably kick his a*s”. Clearly, the illusion of the movie is completely lost now. But really, it was lost long before when the actors seemed to be thinking about what they were supposed to say. But maybe I’m wrong, they could have just been making it up as they went along.

At fifteen minutes running time, this short should have come in closer to five. You have to consider that as an homage to French New Wave films that snappy dialog and editing would be an issue. Still, some hint of truth or humor would have been nice.

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