The holidays are upon us, and we can safely expect reruns of our favorite classic Hollywood films on television between now and Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas…we might even dig up old, geeky treasures like the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas Special, or even the Star Wars Holiday Special if we’re feeling particularly masochistic.
However, I’ve stumbled across a little movie that may well be our ticket out of nostalgia and into a new holiday classic!
It’s a film called Shuffle.
Part It’s a Wonderful Life, part Twilight Zone (with a bit of Doctor Who timey-wimeyness thrown in for flavor), Shuffle is the story of a photographer who is living his life out of order, waking up a different age after every time he goes to sleep. There’s a reason why all this is happening to him, but in order to figure out what it is, he needs to remember and he needs to “pay attention.”
Shuffle stars TJ Thyne (Bones, Erin Brockovich) as Lovell Milo, the story’s exhausted and confused protagonist; and co-stars Paula Rhodes (Brothers & Sisters, Elf Quest: A Fan Imagining), Tamara Taylor (Bones, Serenity), and Michelle Krusiec (Fringe, The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as the women in his life. The film is written and directed by Kurt Kuenne, the filmmaker responsible for the short film, Validation, the story of a parking attendant who makes people smile that became a viral hit on YouTube and also starred TJ Thyne.
Like Validation, Shuffle is a black and white film, which gives it a classic feel without sacrificing its modern, sci-fi/fantasy-tinged sensibility. In his lovely, finely-etched script, Kuenne explores how much a son’s relationship with his father will affect him for the rest of his life, as well as provides a realistic (but no less magical) depiction of a lifelong romance. The performances are wonderful across the board. In Lovell Milo, TJ Thyne conveys the conflict between quiet desperation and unabashed hope and optimism that are warring inside so many of today’s thirtysomethings, and he does so with warmth and humor. Paula Rhodes is a bright, bubbly presence as Grace, his lifelong love, but her effervescence is always grounded in reality. She is life-affirming and happy without being child-like, which turns so many female characters in film into Manic Pixie Dream Girls. The rest of the cast gives the viewer well-rounded, realistic characters even as they populate a fable, particularly the perfectly-cast young actors, Dylan Sprayberry and Elle Labadie, who play the young Lovell and Grace. It also boasts a top-notch production team, including Academy Award-winning (for JJ Abrams’ Star Trek) make-up artist, Barney Burman, who created the prosthetic old-age make-up for Shuffle and currently works on the show, Grimm. Shuffle will make you cry, it will make you think, and it will encourage you appreciate the things in life that you might take for granted.
Shuffle has already been favorably received at numerous film festivals, selling out at the Hollywood, Heartland, and St. Louis International film festivals as well as a two-night screening at the Filmmakers Symposium in New Jersey. It continues its triumphant tour of the festival circuit with a screening at the Cinema Society of San Diego!
I would highly recommend “liking” Shuffle on Facebook and catching the film at one of its upcoming film festival screenings if you can. The film will be touring throughout the winter and is aiming for a mainstream release in the spring/summer of 2012. Keep your eyes on the official website for its tour schedule, and if the film is going to be near you this holiday season, give yourself and a loved one the gift of a wonderful film. Give the gift of Shuffle. You won’t be disappointed.
Teresa Jusino would think it fun to live life out of order! She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in an upcoming non-fiction sci-fi anthology. Get Twitterpated with Teresa,“like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.