Blow the Man Down marks the feature-film debut for two female friends who’ve been on the New York filmmaking scene for a decade. After an exceptionally long gestation period, Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s quirky tale won the Best Screenplay award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It was subsequently acquired by Amazon and begins streaming today. That’s a happy turn of events all around.

Put simply, it’s about murder in a Maine fishing village where everybody knows everybody’s business and there are skeletons rattling in their collective closet. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor play sisters who have just buried their mother, one of the pillars of the community. The siblings have different outlooks on life—and the prospect of running the family business, a fish shop.

Margo Martindale, who can do no wrong, plays a notorious woman who years ago turned her home into a brothel. At one time the townspeople understood that she fulfilled a need for hard-living fishermen, but in the wake of the murder the town’s female elders have second thoughts. One of those women is played by the irresistible June Squibb, whose Oscar-nominated performance in Nebraska put her on the movie map. Another is the considerably younger (but no less welcome) Annette O’Toole.

Filmmakers Cole and Krudy continually offer new tidbits of information about their fictitious village and its colorful characters as the movie progresses. The details of small-town life feel genuine, like the atmosphere they capture so well. A couple of authentic sea shanties, vigorously sung, add flavor to the stew.

Blow the Man Down hasn’t great ambitions but fulfills its modest goals nicely. It’s well worth streaming, especially if you have a cup of chowder handy.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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April 2024