Big Book of Lies makes me want to move to Buenos Aires. Evidently, it’s the new hip thing to do. (Hey, Che Guevara was from Argentina and he got his own t-shirt. He also got assassinated in Bolivia, but you can skip that part. Anyways…) This beautifully shot series captures the allure of this great city and invites your undivided attention.
If the presidential election didn’t go your way, maybe you’ve got options. It definitely seems to suit the characters that occupy this whimsical tale from History and the Universe.
Andrew (Andrew Leeds) just a bought burial plot for himself and his girlfriend, not so much that he’s overly pre-occupied with death, but more that he sees it as a good investment for the future. He takes delight in sharing this wisdom with the locals. While at the newsstand, he comes across a copy of Newsweek proclaiming that Noam Chomsky has been named the smartest man alive. Any well-read person would probably agree with this. Even his name is fascinating: not exactly Norm, not exactly Gnome.
Andrew seems to take more delight in the fact that Mr. Chomsky is the father of his beat-boxing roommate, Buck (John Wright). Buck has his own issues. He’s a little slow, and seems to live in the shadow of not only his famous father but also his identical twin brother, a cop named John (also Wright).
On the way to sharing the exciting news with Buck, Andrew encounters the free-spirited, financial analyst, Laila (Rebecca Whitehurst ). With a mantra of “just put the tip in” as a way of describing taking chances, she marches to the beat of her own awesome drummer, perhaps a spiritual Neil Peart.
The attraction is clear despite the fact that Andrew has a loyal girlfriend somewhere across the country. A dinner date is set, with Andrew bringing Buck and his other friend, the hapless Dave (Dave Lampson), with the intention of hooking them both up. It is quite obvious, however that Laila has her sights set on Andrew.
There has been a void in this effervescent type of story-telling since Whit Stillman left the scene. Big Book of Lies most definitely captures the tone of his movies, especially Barcelona. The dialogue dances along with a playfulness to it. Yet, even at its most amusing, it still bares that hint of real-life melancholy. When Dave takes Buck to the zoo to discuss his beat boxing, it’s almost heartbreaking to watch.
Make no mistake, this is a funny series, but one that achieves a sense of reality. There are real stakes here. Watching Big Book of Lies is like watching pleasant little indie-movies. It’s nice to spend time with these people. The scenarios never get as excruciating as, say, a Curb Your Enthusiasm because the action stays in a more honest place.
Big Book of Lies writers, Leeds and Lampson, won a script-writing contest that was aired as a reality series on Bravo (Situation:Comedy). They’ve since sold pilots to NBC, ABC and Showtime. Like so many shows popping up these days, they shot the series over about two weeks during the writers’ strike. Unlike so many shows popping up these days, it was shot in Buenos Aires.
Dave has lived in Buenos Aires for the last four years and the series is all the more refreshing because of it. Along with Leeds, the series was directed by Camilo Diaz and Pablo Rothschild. Both live in Buenos Aires, as well. Their native touch allows the city itself to become a character, folding you into its honey-hued arms and not letting go. I’m seriously crushing on Buenos Aires. How can you not fall in love there?
Love is definitely the driving force in the narrative. Andrew loves his off-screen girlfriend but can’t help but invite and resist Laila all that same time; that little dance that passionate women and men are apt to do. But life sometimes has a funny way of pointing you in a certain direction regardless of your own complicity. It’s certainly entertaining to watch.
Good stories can transport you without you ever having to buy a plane ticket. The ultimate debate regarding the future of web entertainment will be whether or not you can accomplish this goal in 3 to 4 minute increments. The jury is still out. But, Big Book of Lies is a step in the right direction. Whit would be proud.