The Brass Teapot Ramaa Mosley

The Brass Teapot Ramaa Mosley
7
Sometimes chemistry makes all the difference. Without the utterly disarming rapport Juno Temple (Killer Joe) and Michaeal Angarano (Red State) create between Alice and John, a financially unstable couple that comes into possession of a magical teapot that literally pays for pain, it's hard to say how The Brass Teapot would have turned out. The moralistic greed fable Mosely spun out of co-writer Tim Macy's original short story is a bit on-the-nose, in terms of subtext (people profit from pain, we know), and the elaborate mythology positioning the money-dispensing teapot as analogous to the Holy Grail just paints the central idea of power and wealth as inevitable agents of corruption on a grander scale. Therefore, it's not the high-concept setup that makes the movie special. On paper, it sounds rather silly and limited, and if Alice and John only ever explored physical pain as a means of stimulating their mystical, inanimate sugar daddy that's about all it would be. But as the story progresses, the loving young couple let their covetous "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality drive them to increasingly sadistic acts, as their meal ticket begins responding to psychological pain and violence inflicted upon others. This severely tests the moral boundaries of Alice, who already has a jealousy imp-riding shotgun in her brain, and John, who begins losing sight of the divide between fictional and real life violence (he uses videogames as a release). Contrary the perfunctory romantic strife that ends up taking over most films, their relationship is strengthened, however uncomfortably, by mining their dirtiest secrets for cash. As ridiculous as the plot gets, Temple and Angarano keep the character trajectories feeling true and their joint charisma enhances every scene. The DVD comes packed with extras, many involving the dense fictional history Mosely obsessed over creating. "Uncovering The Brass Teapot" is a lengthy, cheap-looking faux documentary supporting the myth, while an alternate opening explores the origins of the bloodthirsty hot water receptacle. Tonally, it bears no resemblance to the rest of the movie, so it's easy to see why it didn't make the final cut. The other deleted scenes reveal that there was originally a greater emphasis on the relationship between Alice and her rich bitch role model, Payton (Gossip Girl's Alexis Bledel). Their interactions make Alice harder to sympathize with, bringing her superficial insecurities to the surface. Unfortunately, Temple wasn't available for an interview, so we're left with Michael Angarano talking about the joys of improvisation and Mosley excitedly poring over details of the fake history she's so proud of, as well as her love of Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard's '80s output, topics she continues to expand upon in her feature commentary track with executive producer P. Jennifer Dana. It's not without its flaws, but The Brass Teapot is a magical dark comedic fantasy the likes of which we don't see nearly enough. (Mongrel Media)