LA Film Festival Sat 6.22.2013

LA FILM FEST 2013: ‘Four Dogs’ Has a Lot to Bark About

By Jim Lichacz / LA Film Fest Guest Blogger

The Los Angeles Film Festival can always be counted on to include a good crop of indie produced twenty-something-in-transition movies. They usually arrive with some media buzz, and the audience contains lots of cast and crew. Four Dogs is one such film.

At the start of the film’s premiere screening, director Joe Burke said that nobody had seen it yet except for the Festival programmers. The audience was sure excited and the energy level was high. But first, we were treated to a delightful short film, The Date. At its introduction, the director said she never imagined her little film about cats would have taken her such a long way. The audience loved it and didn’t have to just “sit through it” while waiting to see what they came for.

In Four Dogs, the director and his actors were able to create a set of believable characters that provided a way into their space for the duration of the film. As the film progressed and the characters interacted with one another, I grew to like them and could identify with their situations. And when I walked out of the theater, I had one of those moments where I was startled to realize I was at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film really took me out of my skin for the time I was there.

Joe Burke’s work is not overly stylized, nor is it under produced. He threaded the needle of having just the right quotient of reality and style to make the film easily accessible. The actors played their parts perfect: they comfortably inhabited their characters skins and could easily stretch them out as needed.

Dan Bakkedahl, one of the key cast members of the film, also has a recurring role on the acclaimed HBO series Veep. At one point in the film while going through a crisis, he says, “when people tell you it really isn’t so bad, then you know it is bad.” It was nice to see him play a role that’s counter to his Veep character, which is usually an adversary to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Vice President of the United States.

In Four Dogs, he plays a great foil to the lead character played by Oliver Cooper , best known for his lead role in Project X. Bakkedahl provides a space where Cooper can let loose with some sincere acting work. They make quite a good pair and together move the action of the film forward in a nice arc.

Four Dogs screens at the LA Film Fest for the last time today, June 22 at 9:50 pm. More information is available here »