Saturday, October 3, 2020

Ringmaster hits VOD Tuesday

At the start of Ringmaster Zac Capp talks about how the film he was trying to make should have ended years ago but kept going because things kept happening. Normally that is a sign that a film is going to be setting up expectations of twists and turns that it never will love to. In this case the film not only twists and turns but flips as to who the film is really about. The result is a film that is one of the most compelling of the year.

The film started out as a portrait of Larry Lang whose father started Michael’s Restaurant in Minnesota. First a spaghetti house after the Second World War it changed to serving steak and was promptly put on the map by their onion rings. The rings were so good that when Michael's was destroyed in a fire patrons would drive hundreds of miles to wherever Larry was cooking. Filmmaker Zac Capp decided that his first film was going to be on Larry and his rings, and what follows that is the movie, though directed by some other people.

While very much about Larry and his rings, the film is also about Zac. Indeed it wasn’t until I got to the end of the film that I realized that this wasn’t a version of Zac’s film made by Zac but different film made by Molly Dworsky and Dave Newberg. That Capp didn’t direct the film actually makes sense since there are a couple of things in the film that he probably would have left out if the film was his.

I am intentionally not really discussing what happens in the film because half the fun is not knowing what is happening next. While there are clues as to how this is going to go, the opening foreshadows the end revelation, we really can’t guess how it goes. This is not a typical feel good biography but a dual portrait of two people’s intertwined lives. It will make you smile but also leave you feeling a little bittersweet.

The highest praise I can say about the film is that when it was done I instantly wanted to see it again. Partly because I enjoyed it so much but also because I wanted to see the flow of events from the perspective of someone knowing how it would all play out. Any film that makes me want to deep dive again is something special and Ringmaster is just that.

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