Saturday, April 20, 2013

Free Samples

After finishing a sketch at the Regal Winter Park Cinemas  , I looked to see if there were any other films playing in the Florida Film Festival that might interest me. "Free Samples" directed by Jay Gammill had a Tippi Hendren playing the role of a sage old Hollywood actress. I rushed over to the Enzian Theater and got in just as the film began.

The film stars Jillian played by Jess Weixler as a Stanford law school drop out in Hollywood trying to find herself. She tried music but realized it was too difficult and she gave up painting for the same reason. She seems to have her life on hold for her Stanford boyfriend or fiance.

A girlfriend asks Jillian to spend a day in a soft serve ice cream truck handing out free samples.  She interacts with the costumers with dead pan wit not caring about the consequences. When a local musician asks if she will come see his band perform, she plainly states that the band sucks.

When a little girl arrives with her dad who is distracted arguing on a cell phone, Jillian becomes sincere lamenting her own parents. The little girl takes Jillian's hand and says it will be alright.

Tippy comes up for a sample needing two walking sticks. Jillian and the old actress sit together and have a magnificent candid conversation. The sincerity and honesty of the characters had me wiping my eyes a few times. Jesse Eisenberg as Tex, shows up in a suit asking Jillian where she would like to go to dinner. She had been so drunk the night before, she forgot she had agreed to the date. The adventure of the day had softened her allowing her to let people back into her life any softening her empathy for others.

After the film, the director in his lace less sneakers and Tippi in her blue jumpsuit took questions. On person asked if the role had been written specifically with Tippi in mind.  The director was pleased and amazed to get such a legend into his first feature. Jess Weixler's playful deadpan performance was the cement that brought this amazing film to life.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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