Odds are, Max Landis’ 2015 is looking a lot busier than yours. The absurdly prolific writer/director —who made a big splash with the nifty screenplay for his found-footage superhero flick “Chronicle” back in 2012— will have his name as the sole screenwriting credit on no less than four features in the upcoming year. Among those projects are “Victor Frankenstein,” a re-telling of the familiar Frankenstein myth as seen from the perspective of the good Doctor’s assistant Igor, as well as “American Ultra,” a loopy-sounding stoner comedy that reunites “Adventureland” leads Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart under the direction of “Project X” helmer Nima Nourizadeh.
With so much on his plate, one wonders how the restless young filmmaker manages to find time to, you know, breathe. He’s certainly active on social media, including Twitter and YouTube, and often makes low-key, personal shorts with his friends. Which brings us to “Jane LA,” a disarming bit of strangeness written and directed by landis.
“Jane LA” adopts the found-footage template that was also utilized in “Chronicle,” and yet it’s different in every other respect. Jane —who, Landis claims is based on an old girlfriend— is a familiar 21st-century archetype. She’s the type of flighty, beautiful young woman who has never been told “no” in her life and whose sunny exterior and superficial embrace of reportedly “alternative” culture masks a well of deep confusion and latent malice. Landis’ perpetually bemused cameraman interviews friends and colleagues of Jane’s who are curious as to her claims of building a real-deal bomb, one that she plans to set off in a highly populated public sphere and “kill a lot of people.” Is she for real or is this another ironic put-on?
Each character’s reactions to Jane’s ridiculousness are often wonderfully droll: “She’s trying to create something interesting,” says one friend, while another says that she “went to Burning Man and [now she] came back and thinks she’s Tyler Durden,” referring of course to Brad Pitt’s charismatic suburban terrorist in David Fincher’s “Fight Club.” Landis’ short is a grimly amusing dissection of a very particular kind of young person —the spoiled, oblivious artisanal millennial— and throughout the short’s fleet ten-minute runtime, we are constantly in the dark as to Jane’s true intentions: is she really planning on the mass murder of innocent civilians, or is she just fucking with us? In this regard, “Jane LA” proves to be both an adroit black comedy and also a trenchant satirical look at hipster entitlement, showcasing Landis’ formidable visual imagination on what looks to be a very low budget.
Find out if Jane L.A. is for real and watch the short below: