Audiences who laughed themselves stupid at The King of Kong will find much to admire, or not, in Unflinching Triumph, a mockumentary about the spurious sport of Staredown. Everyone knows what Staredown is, right? The last time you did it you were probably a fourth-grade boy: You and your opponent stand toe to toe, staring into each other’s eyes, and the first one who blinks, loses. If you were a girl you probably were in another part of the playground, and Unflinching Triumph won’t mean a thing to you — except maybe as an object lesson.
The 2007 comedy, written by Rob Lambrechts and SF resident Mark Decena, directed by Decena, and shot entirely in Oakland, stars Lambrechts as Philip Rockhammer, a typical game-playing gameboy, just a bit past the age when he should find something better to do with his life, who nevertheless devotes himself to practicing in front of a mirror in preparation for the NASP’s (National Association of Staredown Professionals) tournament circuit. Rockhammer’s nemesis on the circuit is a loudmouth jock type named Tony Patterson (played by Bay Area actor/comic Bob Brindley). When they’re not hustling endorsements from sponsors (Spam and a roach motel product, for instance), the two Staredown pros spend their time practicing such fake-out eyebrow moves as “Sailing to Ecuador on a Boat Made of Shoestrings” or “Wrestling the Woodpecker.” Or in Rockhammer’s case, in a part-time job as a gorilla-suited crowd puller for a local carwash.
The filmmakers developed a realistic-looking back story for the Staredown contestants, including the official NASP web site (ProStaredown.com), a MySpace profile, YouTube videos, etc. Naturally, they heard from guys who wanted to play pro Staredown too. They even sold NASP merchandise on eBay. Unflinching Triumph shows one night only, Tuesday, April 8, 9:15 p.m., at Oakland’s Parkway Theater. UnflinchingTriumph.com
It’s in the Bag, Dad: Humanist Hall’s Spring film series, Reigning Lies, screens No End in Sight, one of the very best films about the war in Iraq, on April 30. As a run-up to that, the Wednesday night series is also playing The Carlyle Connection (April 2), Behind Every Terrorist There Is a Bush (April 9), Bush’s Brain (April 16), and With God on Our Side (April 23). All shows start at 7: 30 p.m. For more info, visit: HumanistHall.org