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Punching the Clown Is a Standout at FLIFF

Every year, while prescreening Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival entries for human consumption, a little indie gem invariably jumps out. Punching the Clown, Gregori Viens’ fable on fame and the record industry meat grinder, is 2009’s leaper. Henry Phillips, who cowrote the script with Viens and supplied all the music, plays himself, a troubadour drifting the country performing in coffeehouses, pizza parlors, and bowling alleys before landing in Los Angeles for one last shot at stardom. His niche is original folk songs that drip with satire and sarcasm. Through a misunderstanding, he quickly finds himself the next hot thing. Just when it appears he’ll be able to leave the couch he is sub-subletting in the apartment his struggling actor brother (Matt Walker) sublets from his roommate girlfriend, another misunderstanding turns Henry into the next vilified thing.


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