The Independent Critic has been a longtime fan of the work of actress/writer/producer/director Cindy Maples, whose top notch work has been recognized at film festivals ranging from the up-and-coming Alhambra Theatre Film Festival to Action on Film International Film Festival, one of the true festival icons among low-budget/indie fests.
Maples is back with her latest short film, the comedy short E-Bowla and the film will have its world premiere at the spot where it all began - Henderson, Kentucky's Echo Lanes, the kind of small-town bowling where the guys gather for their weekly bowling night to get away from their wives and where the ladies celebrate the occasional ladies' night offering them their own special getaway.
For Big Thumper (Will Chase, Nashville and Stranger Things 2), Levi (Leo Kempf), Spare Bear (Paul Nicely), and Wrecking Ball (Rusty James), their one night away from the wives ends up at, well, the bowling alley when the wannabe players discover that this particular night is ladies' night and the joint will be filled with fine ladies and free pizza.
Let's just say that the ladies and the pizza buffet have other ideas.
Running just shy of nine minutes, E-Bowla is one of those films, according to Maples, that started off as a joke yet has likely turned into her best directorial effort yet.
We're introduced to Big Thumper, Levi, Spare Bear, and Wrecking Ball as they begin to strut their worn out swagger, the kind of swagger that tends to make the ladies roll their eyes as it's pretty clear that whatever the guys once had it long ago left the building. E-Bowla gives us the delightful Gina Moore, who can do more with a look than most actresses can do with a line. When the guys request shoe sizes that would seem to leave a little room to spare, it's more than a little obvious that the not so hospitable ladies are going to strike back.
Already submitted to over 30 film festivals, E-Bowla is one of those fun little shorts that you always discover at an indie/microcinema festival that entertains you from beginning to end and periodically makes you laugh for the next few days. Frequent Maples collaborator Jim Dougherty's lensing is impressive throughout, while Virgil Franklin's original music is inventive and fun.
Will Chase, Leo Kempf, Paul Nicely, and Rusty James make for a terrific comedic ensemble, their comic rhythms nicely in sync with one another and their facial expressions letting us all know that their masculine swagger is way more style than substance. They're the types of guys who would start a sexual harassment conversation with "Baby..." and whose comeuppance is more than a little fun to watch.
E-Bowla features a special appearance by singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. If you don't know her music, quick look her up. Seriously. I'll wait.
Michaelson's relatively brief appearance as Butterface is unexpectedly hilarious, especially for those of us familiar with her often playful, wonderfully relational lyrics.
Whether exploring the horror or the humor of the everyday experience, Maples continues to impress. Her directorial approach is perfectly in tune with the film's dialogue, both build slowly before expanding broadly with quite the payoff.
E-Bowla will have its world premiere on Friday, April 27th at the Echo Lanes in Henderson, Kentucky where attendees will have two shots at checking the film out, at 7pm and 8:30pm, and will have the extra perk of seeing a 30-minute behind-the-scenes "making of" clip right before each screening. Movie posters will be available and some of the stars of the film will be on hand. For more information, make sure to follow the film on Facebook.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic