The teen delinquency of the ’50s, the counterculture of the ’60s, and the hangin’ out of the ’70s that we enjoyed in American Graffiti, Easy Rider, and Dazed and Confused collide in this cinematic homage to Robert Altman’s 1975 satirical ensemble comedy-drama Nashville — only, instead of the country music industry of Altman’s film — this tale follows the lives of several struggling thirty-somethings on their way to a post-punk music festival. The featured attraction of the festival, punk star Eve Valentine (Sarah Lawrence of 2009’s Australian comedy Stoned Bros), as with her fans, has her own thirty-something problems: she no longer feels a connection to the art or the fans that brought her success. Gen-X angst, past-their-prime adolescent confusion, the struggles of making a living as an artist, and comedy, ensues.
The eclectic cast of fifty features a wealth of eccentric characters portrayed by college rock icon J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Jonah Ray (of the 2017 Netflix reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000), Frank Agnew (of the Adolescents), Casey Royer (of D.I. from Suburbia), and punk icon Pleasant Gehman (The Runnin’ Kind). The new kids on the music block feature the sounds of Echolust, Band Aparte, and The Electric West.
So, with fifty characters in play via intertwined storylines, in conjunction with the Altman critique, the caveat here is that I’ll Be Around clocks in — with opening titles and end credits — at a whopping 2 hours and 3 minutes. And while self-taught micro-budget purveyor Mike Cuenca isn’t Robert Altman here — at least not yet — he’s certainly on his way to having an O.C and Stiggs or Brewster McCloud moment (my two favorites of his resume). As with Altman: there’s a lot of words and actions afoot, so you really need to watch Cuenca’s scribed intelligence closely, so you don’t miss anything. All the pieces fit and, as with any puzzle, you need all of the pieces to appreciate the bigger picture.
I’ll Be Around is available on all PPV and VOD platforms on September 23 from Indie Rights. You can learn more about the film at its official website.
Music Trivia Footnotes: You’ll remember the Adolescents hail from Fullerton, California, as part of the early ’80s hardcore punk movement in southern California and shared Orange County stages with Agent Orange (River’s Edge) and Social Distortion (Another State of Mind). Their self-titled debut album featured the Posh Boy (label of T.S.O.L, also of Suburbia fame) gold single, “Amoeba,” which came to prominence as result of its inclusion on a volume of KROQ-FM disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer’s (The Mayor of Sunset Strip) Rodney on the ROQ compilations.
Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.
Update: As of August 2021, Mike Cuenca released his latest film, Like a Dirty French Novel.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.