King of Herrings
Review by Mark Schwab
Director/lead actor Eddie Jemison is one of those guys you see on the screen and instantly recognize. You can't exactly place the name but you just know you've seen him before.
Well you'd be right. Jemison is a hard working actor playing solid supporting roles in cable t.v.'s "Hung" and is a regular in Steven Soderbergh's films (all of the "Ocean's" films, "The Informant!") and that is just scratching the surface of his long list of credits.
I believe, and hope, that "King of Herrings" (his feature directorial debut) will get his name out there as a leading man in his own right. Eddie Jemison is so ferociously good in this, it's impossible to keep your eyes off him every time he is on screen. Although that is slightly unfair since all of the actors here - seasoned and recognizable pros with plenty of strong IMDB credits - are given juicy parts, putting their hearts and souls into them. It's a testament to Jemison's generosity that as the Director/Writer/Star he never short-changes any of the other actors' chances to shine equally in their roles. Egos were clearly left at the door when they began shooting this and the movie is all the better for it.
The story mostly revolves around four old friends who meet regularly at a run-down diner in a run-down New Orleans. These are four guys who have put up with each other's crap for so long that they can treat each other reprehensibly and get away with it because there is no one else to really hang out with. But the edges are finally starting to fray and it isn't long before deep resentments and tragic events surface from seemingly simple incidents (Jemison's character owing another character $9.00 and refusing to pay it causes all sorts of trouble).
Gritier than David Mamet, more polished than John Cassavettes, but still retaining all the best qualities of both of those talented men in that it presents vulgarity in an artful way with deeply realized characters who can cut each other (and us in the audience) down to the bone.
Gorgeously composed and lensed in black and white by co-Director Sean Richardson (what an eye this guy has), they are able to create a thick tension and authenticity in that decrepit New Orleans neighborhood while still making it beautiful. "King of Herrings" is a rare chance to see recognizable supporting actors pooling their resources to show they can handle the key leading roles (both in front of and behind the camera) just fine, thank you very much.
Currently playing the festival circuit - it won awards at the New Orleans film fest - when this becomes available, bunker down for some harsh, rough and tumble great indie filmmaking with acting to match.
UPDATE - JANUARY 21st, 2015 - King of Herrings is now available on iTunes. Click the link to the right and see the film!