When was the last time you supported independent film? If it’s been a while, you may want to consider checking out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead, the latest opus from renaissance man, Jordan Galland.
If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you may be more impressed by Galland’s accomplishments as a musician and music video director. Galland became quite popular with his bands Dopo Yume and Domino, which toured widely and lent songs to popular television shows. Eventually, Galland broke free and recorded two solo-albums, “Airbrush” and “Search Party”, which has been rapidly climbing the charts, since it’s debut back in April. Galland also lent some of his song-writing skills (and acting chops) to long-time friend (and Undead’s composer), Sean Lennon, on his successful album, “Friendly Fire” (as well as its accompanying music-video DVD).
Lennon actually plays an integral role in the birth of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead. Galland was invited by Lennon to join him briefly to meet with Tom Stoppard, writer of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which debuted back in the 60s. They presented the idea to do a modern vampire-centric rendition of Stoppard’s concept. Galland even went as far to allude to an already written script, which was not entirely true, but after Stoppard gave his enthusiastic blessing, Galland got to writing.
Undead tells the story of Julian (Jake Hoffman), a semi-retired theater director in his late-20′s who cannot get over a recent breakup with ex-girlfriend (Devon Aoki) and shares his living quarters with his father’s medical practice. In an effort to get his life together, Julian takes a job directing Hamlet at a Manhattan theater, secretly being run by a group of vampires.
As much as the world may have vampire-fatigue at the moment, Galland is grateful for the fortunate timing of the film’s release, despite having conceived the idea long before the days of Twilight and True Blood. For Galland, the vampire craze has gotten his indie flick more recognition than had it been released at a time when Hot Topic was only selling Jack Skellington Christmas lights. The film’s success is also boosted by notable actors, John Ventimiglia (The Sporanos) and Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), who plays the role of Bobby Bianchi, a sleazy Italian-American entrepreneur who currently dates Julian’s ex.
The biggest scene-stealer in Undead, however, is Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Six Feet Under), a comedic detective who sadly only appears in the final act of the film. Comedy is actually the driving force throughout, which shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. Any film mixing vampires and Shakespeare shouldn’t take itself too seriously.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead premiered at Slamdance film festival in 2009 and went on to play in over fifteen festivals worldwide before getting picked up for limited theatrical distribution by Indican Pictures. Undead ran for two weeks in NYC and just opened in LA, Orange County, and this weekend will open in Portland and San Diego. Undead will be out on DVD September 21st.
Galland is currently writing more screenplays and directing music videos. And with that, I leave you with Galland’s music video for “Search Party” of his album by the same name. Note Galland’s excellent animation skills in both the music video and in Undead.