The Great and Powerful Todd Rohal's first feature film, THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE, is getting a deluxe release from new kid on the DVD distro block, Benten Films on April 29, 2008. Packed with extras, this disc will fill your evenings with fun while keeping you out of the multiplex.
To read my interview with Todd Rohal click here.
My review from Cashiers du Cinemart #15:
THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE (Todd Rohal, 2006)
Winner of the Grand Jury prize at Slamdance, this much-anticipated film by wunderkind Todd Rohal fulfills the promise of the writer/director’s potential. Picking up where his short films, KNUCKLEFACE JONES (1999) and HILLBILLY ROBOT (2001) left off, THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE serves as another voyage into the creative and colorful mind of Rohal.
Starring Will Oldham as Donald Turnipseed, the singer/songwriter is absent through a good deal of the film, though his presence haunts nearly every scene. Donald has gone missing after an accident at a local power plant. All that’s left of him is his father’s funny little electric car—which changes hands more often than a novice poker player—memories of him, and his unborn child. Sadie (Sheila Scullin) is the baby’s momma. She’s going into her third trimester as an outcast from her family after her father, the off-kilter Ivan (Ivan Dimitrov), kicks her out of the house for being a slut. Never mind that Ivan has to use a short bus to transport his fourteen illegitimate daughters.
The film goes back and forth in time, focusing on a wide array of eccentric characters that live in anticipation, or dread, of a big demolition derby. Will Sadie drive Donald’s father’s car to victory? Will Ivan defeat her? Will Turkeylegs (Katy Haywood) ever be reunited with her friend Donald? Will Ethel Firecracker (Kathleen Kennedy) ever find her lost dog? These questions and more are woven into the rich fabric of THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE.
As to be expected from a Rohal film, nothing can be expected—with the exceptions that any boy scouts in the film will be malicious little punks and that the plot will follow logic of its own. THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE does not disappoint. It’s a pleasure cruise of an independent film.
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