The Runaround Club (2015): Burglary and Domestic Troubles (Review)


The Runarond Club, directed by Matt Rindini (his first gig as director) and written by Andrew Gleeson (who also edited the short film and did  the sound) is an interesting look at burglary and domestic troubles meeting head on.  Although the term abuse seems more apt,  there may be much more here than meets the eye.

Two burglars have cased out a house and wait four its occupants to leave. The moment the car pulls out of the driveway, the men, Lucas (Ariel Zuckerman) and Sam (Jack Lynch) split up the house and begin the job.  

As Lucas begins going through the house the  car returns and he heads down to the basement. Trapped, he lights a cigarette and listens to sounds of domestic violence upstairs.  Lucas contemplates his situation while smoking his last cigarette.   As the sounds upstairs get louder a  young girl enters the basement.

Linda (Asta Paredes) believes the young man in the basement is there for her sister Eliza (Caitlyn Parker) and after asking for a smoke, warns Lucas against going upstairs. Moments later she discovers that he is there to burgle the house and starts to leave. Lucas stops her and as the shouting escalates above them the girl opts to stay in the basement.

Sam makes too much noise entering the house through the garage and Frank (John Depew), the father of the two girls, grabs the man thinking that he is Eliza’s latest boyfriend.  Frank is domineering, a bully and not afraid to slap his oldest daughter around. 

Thing begin to spiral out of control and  Lucas and Linda go upstairs. Once there  the situation soon turns deadly.

The Runaround Club is an interesting look at a moment where a young girl is so disturbed by her family situation that she befriends a burglar found in her basement.  Lucas learns that her mother is in California setting up a new home for them all as a “new start.”

Clearly things have been bad for quite some time.

Lucas is deceptively caring in his dealings with the upset and stressed Linda. Helping her to look for whiskey tumblers for her father and sharing his last cigarette with her. He queries whether or not her sister will be okay but only gets involved when Sam is brought into the situation.

The film ends on a sour note, a reluctant Lucas does something that is, while making a certain amount of sense, incredibly cold blooded. If there is a moral to this story, it is clearly, “be good to your children.”

Rindini, who has been rather busy in 2016, takes a quirky scenario and makes it work. Paredes and Zuckerman have an interesting chemistry and it makes their interaction and part of the plot more believable.

The editing by Gleeson is tight and the sound of the film is perfect with none of the dialogue being drowned out by the soundtrack.  Rindini is not afraid to lose the background ambiance and it benefits the film, making feel more like a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary than a short in certain places.

Flying under the banner of FitchFortFilms (Dirty Books) The Runaround Club does well as a drama.  This is a 3.5 star film, only because there are moments where some of the film  feels flat, not often, but enough that it challenges the “suspension of disbelief.”

This is a cracking first effort and one that entertains.

Dirty Books (2016): A Hidden Message – Review

Noah Bailey as David Burroughs on poster for Dirty Books

Directed and co-written by Zachary Lapierre (the other scribe on the film was Ian Everhart who also acted as cinematographer on the short) Dirty Books is set in a high school and features a “newsman” who reacts angrily at the establishment’s move into the new millennium.  Starring Timothy J. Cox as Dr. Bradley the school principal, Ansley Berg and Noah Bailey (as David Burroughs the paper’s publisher and head editor) Dirty Books has a hidden message, or perhaps an uncomfortable truth in its tale of paper versus the Internet.

The film starts with Bradley telling Burroughs that his paper has been shut down. The school board have determined that it is more cost effective to have an online blog. “Kids pay more attention to their phones,” says Dr. Bradley and, in essence, the character is not far from wrong.

Burroughs does not take the news well, “How young are you trying to look,” is his acidic response.  The young newshound then attempts to motivate his staff to save the paper. Sadly, only David is bothered by the news that their “solid copy” is to be replaced with a blog.

David then conspires with Owens (played by director Lapierre) who tells the desperate editor that unless he can make something up that “people can see” that the paper cannot be saved. Burroughs takes the advice and begins “making up news.”

Noah Bailey as David
David writing about the first “dirty books” story…

Initially, David puts naked pictures taken from “skin trade magazines” into the school’s library books and then writes about it. The views for his paper increase and as his readership goes up, so too do his “pranks.”  As the stakes increase, the lines become blurred for Burroughs.

This is a tight little film. Using the real-life biases of “news reporters” as a starting point (David completely dismisses his sports reporter Charlotte, played by Berg, saying that Sports write’s itself) Dirty Books goes on to show that media is an addictive mistress that becomes more about the reporter than the “news” itself.

As usual, Timothy J. Cox adds a stamp of authority and truth to the proceedings and the young cast step up to the mark he sets.  The director exhibits a deft touch dealing with millennial teens who, with David at least, want to cling to older values.  “Paper versus Internet” is the obvious message with an underlying reality that becomes all too clear by the end of the film.

Ansley Berg and Timothy J Cox
Ansley Berg and Timothy J Cox

The movie looks great with clear edits and  framing that does not stretch convention and feels “spot on” for the setting and the material.  Dirty Books is another FitchFortFilms feature (the first being The Runaround Club) and Lapierre’s first effort in the director’s chair and his second time as an actor.

Despite being set in a high school, the film looks at a number of issues in connection with the “news.” The slow death of the tactile experience of reading the written word caused by the electronic medium of the news blog, integrity in reporting and ethics in the media. Finally, the film addresses the millennial craving for fame, whatever the cost.

This is splendid viewing and an interesting look at the “grass-roots” of journalism; the high school paper where so many writers and journos got their start.  Dirty Books is a 4.5 star feature and well worth the time spent watching it.


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