The Duplass Brothers Need to Talk About “Kevin” and “Adolescents” in LA & NY

Though you’ll be seeing both Duplass brothers together soon enough as it was announced Tuesday that their latest comedy, “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” will have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September, audiences on the east and west coasts will be able to spend time with “The Puffy Chair”/”Cyrus” duo this week, though you’ll only see one at a time.

In New York on Friday, Mark Duplass will accompany director Craig Johnson and producer Thomas Woodrow to kick off the reRun Gastropub’s weeklong theatrical run of “True Adolescents,” a Seattle-set comedy that Duplass stars in as a thirtysomething musician slow to everything, including the realization that his big break may never come, and finds some common ground with his 14-year-old nephew (Bret Loehr) and his friend (Carr Thompson) when he takes them on a camping trip and learns as much as they do. An alum of SXSW 2009, the film will soon get a release on VOD and DVD, but is well worth catching theatrically, especially if you’re a fan of Duplass’ aloof, easygoing schtick as a star of FX’s “The League.”

A day earlier in Los Angeles, Jay Duplass will be onhand at The Cinefamily to present “Kevin” as part of the theater’s ongoing “Don’t Knock the Rock” series of music-related documentaries. Appropriately a one night affair only, the short documentary is clearly a labor of love for the filmmaker since it’s about rediscovering Kevin Gant, a free-associating singer/songwriter who Duplass became a fan of while attending film school at UT Austin in the early ‘90s. But it also happens to be a real discovery of a film since Gant actually has a story to tell.

As Duplass acknowledges in some opening narration, Gant’s music combining a “Motown voice, Spanish guitar, and New Age lyrics” is a bit of an acquired taste, though wholly of its place of origin in Austin, Texas. Yet Gant left to pursue his career in Los Angeles and that’s where things went awry. At first, it seems strange when you realize 10 minutes into the film that Duplass doesn’t intend play much of Gant’s music, but it becomes obvious why when Duplass finds the musician counting boxes at a UPS employee back in Austin that things didn’t go according to plan.  However, it isn’t the mystery of what happened to Gant in the interim that drives the film as much as the lingering effect his experience in L.A. has had on his art, which unfortunately appears to have muted his desire to sing at all.

At a mere 36 minutes, “Kevin” covers a full arc for Gant, which is why I’d be curious whether a feature-length version as Duplass has been allegedly contemplating would actually be a good thing. And it’s actually a bit of a spoiler to tell you that Gant will be appearing to play a short set after the Cinefamily screening, just as he did when the film made an under-the-radar premiere at this year’s SXSW, but the film is quite satisfying in how it actually plays a role in Gant’s artistic renewal and its depiction of someone deciding to try to make it on their own terms.

“Kevin” will play at The Cinefamily in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. on July 28th with a collection of rare documentary shorts. Tickets can be purchased here. Meanwhile, “True Adolescents” will play at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn from July 29th through August 4th. Tickets can be purchased here.

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