Frank Ross Week at No Budge Films
By Don Simpson | July 7, 2012
Director: Frank V. Ross
Writer: Frank V. Ross
Starring: Frank V. Ross, Rebecca Spence, Megan Mercier
Chris (Frank V. Ross) and Melody (Rebecca Spence) are a young married couple with conflicting work schedules. During the day, while Melody is teaching at a local high school, Chris stays at home to write; then, during the evenings, Chris waits tables at a local restaurant. As you can probably guess, Chris and Melody never get to spend quality time together; instead, they are growing more and more disconnected. Time passes faster and faster, all the while nothing seems to improve…
Financial insecurity is always at the forefront of their minds. Melody is the responsible one with a reliably consistent paycheck and health care benefits; but she has no job security from year to year, so it makes her incredibly nervous that Chris cannot keep up with his share of the rent. Chris is struggling as an aspiring writer, but he seems unwilling to give up. And even though it does not provide him with much in the way of income, waiting tables is the only thing that seems to fit with his writing schedule. It also seems like maybe Chris enjoys the fact that he and Melody do not spend much time together. It is obvious that he likes Melody, but there is a sense that he has just grown incredibly comfortable with their relationship.
So it is not surprising that Chris has developed a flirtatious relationship at the restaurant with a co-worker, Brandy (Megan Mercier). He begins going home later and later, spending less and less time with Melody and more time with Brandy. As viewers, we are placed in the awkward and uncomfortable position of a mutual friend who knows a secret about Chris but cannot spill the beans to Melody.
I first became aware of writer-director Frank V. Ross when I stumbled upon the SXSW 2010 screening of Audrey the Trainwreck. I remember being blown away by the Ross’ unwavering sense of realism, particularly with the economic struggles of his characters. Tiger Tail in Blue continues along that same path, again showcasing today’s late 20-something white urban working class. As with Audrey, the characters in Tiger Tail have committed themselves to whatever job(s) they can get in order to make ends meet. The characters’ lives revolve around their work, causing them to struggle in committing to and developing healthy human relationships. They have fallen into the rut of rather monotonous routines that create an unnerving illusion of time slipping away.
Speaking of the characters, the lead performances of Ross (Autoerotic), Rebecca Spence (Earthling) and Megan Mercier (Autoerotic) are pretty amazing. I especially admire the naturalism of their performances, while they simultaneously develop complicatedly likable characters. I should clarify that — because typically when a critic writes “natural[ism]” that can be interpreted as meaning non-actors or improvised performances, but I have absolutely no doubt that Ross, Spence and Mercier are indeed performing and relying upon some resemblance of a script.
Sure, this is a bleak perspective of life, but for so many of us the story is bitterly truthful and relevant. Sure, I enjoy escapist cinema as much as most people, but I also admire filmmakers who are brave enough to shove the sheer mundanity of life into my face. There is something perversely fulfilling about observing fictional cinematic characters going through shit that is incredibly similar to what I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Ross makes incredibly thoughtful films about those of us who hold down jobs for the sole purpose of paying the bills. Until writing can pay my mortgage — and I am not holding my breath on that ever happening! — I will be stuck working at a “nine-to-five” job. Unfortunately, that just seems to be part of our ridiculous economic system. Most people cannot afford to do what they want to do (unless they have someone to support them), because those types of jobs just cannot pay the bills. Oh, and if you are reading this and thinking “I love my job,” you are either a sick fuck or incredibly lucky.
Tiger Tail in Blue will be available to stream online (for free) for a limited time during Frank Ross Week at No Budge Films (which will also feature screenings of Audrey the Trainwreck and Present Company). Check out the No Budge website for more information.