Film Review: Making the Day

STUDIO: MCM Creative | DIRECTOR: Michael Canzoniero | CAST: Steve Randazzo, Dan Fogler, Juliette Bennett, Timothy “Speed” Levitch, Kira Dikhtyar
SPECS: NR | 87 min. | Comedy drama

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Films about filmmaking are a tricky proposition. If the movie is not universal enough, it gets tagged as being “inside ball”—efforts that real cinephiles or people in the industry may appreciate, but outsiders simply don’t appreciate or even “get.”

Making the Day is a movie industry enterprise that will likely win fans outside of the cinematic bubble. That’s because it’s charming, funny and poignant without sacrificing the unusual and often arcane ins and outs associated with the world of independent filmmaking and financing.

Veteran character actor Steven Randazzo (The Clapper) plays—appropriately–veteran character Nick Fazzio, who’s trying to raise funds to produce Cagney Cried, a movie dedicated to his beloved late wife. Nick misses her terribly and would like to get the film made to honor her memory. But getting the money together to finance the project has turned into a struggle and he is on the verge of calling it quits.

Juliette Bennett and Steven Randazzo take it to the streets in Making the Day.

Enter Samantha (Juliette Bennett, Smothered by Mothers), a quirky New York actress determined to land the lead role in Nick’s film. After meeting him and being touched by the stories about his late spouse, Samantha is also determined to help raise the necessary funds to make the picture. Samantha is soon pulling out all the stops to get the project off the ground, from selling personal items at a stoop sale to meeting with unsavory potential investors and calling in favors with acquaintances in the industry who remember working with Nick over the years.

Director/co-writer Michael Canzoniero (Don Peyote) and writing partner Michael Berenbaum (who also edited the film) have fashioned a spirited and likable effort that plays like a fable about how perseverance, grit and determination can triumph against all odds in one of the world’s most unpredictable businesses. As Making the Day shows us, begging, borrowing and schmoozing supersede glamour in the indie film trenches.

As Nick, Randazzo–whose five-decade career includes supporting roles in movies directed by Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Michael Mann, John Sayles and Sidney Lumet–holds the screen with his relatable world-weariness. Meanwhile, Bennett offers a delightful, energetic turn as Samantha, a neurotic wannabe star who turns out to be Nick’s guardian angel, The ensemble cast also includes Tony-winning Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as a Russian entrepreneur; Timothy “Speed” Levitch, the tour guide subject of the 1998 cult documentary The Cruise, as a potential film investor; and beautiful Russian model Kira Dikhtyar as…a beautiful Russian model.

While watching Making the Day, film fans may be reminded of Alexandre Rockwell’s In the Soup (which featured Randazzo) and Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion, two memorable 1990s satires starring Steve Buscemi as a sad sack screenwriter and director, respectively, trying to navigate the chaotic behind-the-scenes world of New York indie cinema.

Making the Day proves that not much seems to have changed in this world over the past three decades. Except now, the cameras are digital.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.