Danny Rhodes Shines in “Cock N’ Bull”

Nathan Adloff and Danny Rhodes star in Adloff’s Cock N’ Bull. Courtesy of Nathan Adloff.

Nathan Adloff and Danny Rhodes star in Adloff’s Cock N’ Bull. Courtesy of Nathan Adloff.

There’s a scene in Frank V. Ross’s 2010 gem, “Audrey the Trainwreck,” that contains one of the most mesmerizing bits of acting in recent memory. It takes place in the smoke-laden shadows of a late night cigarette break, as the complacent protagonist, Ron (Anthony J. Baker), is gradually talked into quitting his job by a tremendously gabby pal, Scott (Danny Rhodes).

At first, Scott’s compulsion to talk seems to be merely played for laughs, and Rhodes’s gift for comic timing results in some very funny moments. Yet as he veers from mocking outdated cell phone gags in “Curly Sue” to launching an embittered diatribe against airport security, it’s clear that Scott intends to do more than just shoot the shit. He yearns to connect with his distant friend and tear down his comfortable façade of indifference—by force, if necessary (“I just want you to complain! Let’s yell, buddy!” he howls at one point). Scott may be infuriating, but his methods are not only purely intentioned, they’re startlingly effective.

It was during this marvelous ten-minute stretch of screen time that I instantly became a fan of Danny Rhodes in that way where if I see him materialize in a movie, I instantly perk up. I witnessed firsthand how he brought down the house with a single throwaway quip during a Siskel Center screening of Nathan Adloff’s “Nate & Margaret” (“Grandma’s done,” he sighs, while shuffling a dejected fiftysomething comic offstage). Though Rhodes has appeared in other features and shorts, Adloff’s new 8-minute comedy, “Cock N’ Bull,” is easily his most satisfying cinematic showcase to date.

Since I wouldn’t dream of giving away any surprises, allow me to simply state that the film is set in a Chicago apartment where two friends, Wes (Rhodes) and Chris (Adloff), amuse themselves by making a series of prank calls. Wes has just had a heartbreaking fight with his boyfriend, and is desperate to have his spirits lifted. Of course, no single-minded effort of careless mischief can ever be forged without consequences inevitably rearing their ugly head. Like Rhodes and Adloff’s earlier short, “I Love You This Much,” “Cock N’ Bull” is a deft mixture of good-natured bawdiness and squirm-inducing unease, eliciting laughter that often runs smack-dab into a row of gritted teeth.

Apart from its crisp cinematography and fine-tuned editing (both courtesy of Brian Levin), what really make the short worth seeing are the priceless facial expressions of Rhodes, as they morph between fits of hilarious ecstasy and unbridled terror. Perhaps this exquisitely unsettling short can be viewed as a fitting precursor to Rhodes’s own talent-packed horror anthology, “I Scream You Scream.” In any case, it’s well worth checking out.

Just for fun, here’s a glimpse of the actor in one of his past collaborations with Adloff, the comic series “Bad Sides,” in which Rhodes plays a director whose sense of self-worth is superseded only by his lack of talent…

BAD SIDES Pilot Trailer from Nathan Adloff on Vimeo.

Cock N’ Bull” will screen Saturday, July 13th and Wednesday, July 17th at the 2013 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival. For more info, visit the official festival site.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s