Occasionally when, in the midst of press rounds for other projects, an actor or director reveals an entire film has been shot under the radar for immediate release — Noah Baumbach's “Frances Ha” or Joss Whedon's “Much Ado About Nothing” comes to recent memory — the effect is sublime, eliciting a buzzing anticipation for the soon-to-be-approaching result. Then there's times when the news just settles into a hesitant simmer, such as when actor and playwright Jack Plotnick recently announced cast and plot details of his completed directorial debut, “Space Station 76.”
Having quietly established himself in Los Angeles writing plays and serving as an acting coach to Sunset's neediest, Plotnick has since used his connections to assemble a perfectly adequate cast for his first film, including Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Patrick Wilson and Marisa Coughlan, as a rag-tag bunch of space jockeys. Touted as taking place in a "1970s version of the future," the sci-fi dramedy centers around Tyler's character, a fresh-faced assistant captain, whose arrival aboard the titular space station sets off ripples of tension throughout the crew, which also includes Jerry O'Connell, Kali Roch and Kylie Rogers.
Plotnick first secured Wilson for the Rival Pictures-produced film — which attempts to examine his 70's childhood via interstellar metaphor — by sending him the script through a mutual acting friend, while Tyler actually had purchased books on technique from his website and was keen to collaborate. Even while coming across as a not entirely promising sci-fi riff in the vein of “Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” the film has nonetheless wrapped up production in Los Angeles, and is currently deep into the editing stage. We'll soon see if Plotnick's acting skills can effectively transfer to solid directorial choices, and nail what is admittedly an ambitious narrative choice for a first outing overall. [THR]