|Written by Tara O'Shea|
|Tuesday, 26 February 2002|
Co-directed by brothers Josh and Jacob Kornbluth, "Haiku Tunnel" chronicles Josh Kornbluth's journey from footloose and fancy free temp to "perm" secretary for a high-powered San Francisco tax lawyer. With constant voiceovers and frequent cuts to Kornbluth himself with anecdotes and flashbacks, the audience follows the saga of Josh as he attempts to get 17 very important letters mailed with the aide of his fellow S&M secretaries. Hilarity ensues, at least for anyone in the audience who has ever worked as a temporary executive assistant.
Based on one of Kornbluth's monologues, the film has some fantastical elements -- not the least of which is Josh's ability to bed successful, beautiful young women with ease -- but the humor is gentler than the similarly-themed "Office Space." "Haiku Tunnel" has a farcical quality that may send viewers scrambling behind the couch to wait for the most excruciating "Three's Company" style moments to pass. However, the film benefits from strong supporting performances from Amy Resnick as permanently cheerful secretary Mindy, Helen Shumaker as terrifying but ultimately motherly Marlene, and Sarah Overman as a forceful lawyer who mistakes Josh for a peer and allows herself to be seduced into a wild night of passion only to be horrified when she realizes she has bedded a mere executive assistant. But the standout performance comes from Warren Keith as Josh's boss Bob Shelby, who may or may not be the Devil. Keith's low-key performance sells the character perfectly, and is an excellent foil to bumbling and neurotic Josh.
The disc features a very good transfer, with almost no noticeable flaws. The colors are perhaps not as saturated and vibrant as they could be, but the fleshtones and blacks are both consistent throughout. For a low-budget independent feature from two first-time filmmakers, the production values are surprisingly high. For a very dialogue-heavy film, the sound mix does make good use of the rock score. Dialogue is mainly centered, with various sound effects coming from the sides and rears (the cold wind which follows head secretary Marlene is particularly effective). Marco D'Ambrosio's score works perfectly with the songs that the Kornbluths incorporate into the narrative. The music is crisp and clear, never overpowering the dialogue.
The disc includes a lively audio commentary by the Kornbluth Brothers as they profess undying love for every female costar, point out every crew member and investor posing as an extra, and bemoan missed opportunities. However, for most film buffs, the best anecdotes are those that center around getting the film made in the first place, and the trials and travails of indie moviemakers.
Other special features include the film's theatrical trailer, deleted scenes, and outtakes, such as every permutation of Harry Shearer's brief but hilarious role as orientation leader and several unused takes of a frenetic dancer on a street corner, as well as the standard flubbed lines and blown takes. The disc's menus are simple and easy to navigate, featuring images from the film and graphics that suggest a secretary's desk.
While not exactly a knee-slapping comedy, "Haiku Tunnel" is an amusing look at how everyone must eventually grow up and accept adult responsibilities.