5 May 2013

Titans of Newark

There are a number of movies which deal with the Greek gods and their curtailed powers in the contemporary world but generally they can be a little po-faced and tend to disappear up their own ophiotaurus within the first ten minutes.  The limited length of Titans of Newark does not allow for this but the premise is familiar.

Zeus and the other gods are busy chewing the cud and lamenting their loss of influence and power.  As a bet with Poseidon, Zeus decides to randomly pick a mortal and bend him to his will.  He chooses Levi Katz, unemployed accountant and unhappy family man (the family being as unhappy as the man in this case).  Levi has a job interview and Zeus is determined that the hapless Katz will never get there.  Yet he has, perhaps, taken on a mortal who will not be deterred by the obstacles that Zeus places in his way.

Written and directed by Mike Marino, Titans of Newark was made as a graduate thesis film at Chapman University in 2012.  While the short movie’s small budget does show on occasion (and it is testament to the cast and crew that these moments are few and far between) I am taken aback that something of this quality was made as a graduate film.  No disrespect to undergraduates intended – we here at Kuriositas have very high expectations of student projects – but this is just outstanding.

The cast is outstanding.  Joel Brooks as the luckless Levi Katz is wonderfully droll and holds the movie together beautifully.  If his face is familiar to you then it is probably from his numerous appearances on American TV shows: he’s been in CSI, Law & Order, Six Feet Under and Without a Trace to name a recent few – but his TV history goes back to the early eighties and MASH.

Duke Valenti, too, gives a very muscular performance as the father of the gods who seems to be undergoing some sort of mid-life crisis.  Valenti too has one of those familiar faces – no doubt because of his memorable appearances on Life on Mars, The Sopranos and Law & Order (again to name just a few).  The rest of the cast are outstanding too and includes Lili Bordan (BSG: Blood and Chrome) as Calypso.

Along with a witty and fast-paced script by Marino, Titans of Newark is 25 minutes of great entertainment.  The Greek gods may have had their day but I do believe that the age of the short film is upon us.