Playing with pain in ‘The Brass Teapot’

TORONTO -- An offbeat mix of fable and satire, “The Brass Teapot” is based around the idea that a teapot is passed through the centuries with an alluring but evil power. It rewards its owners for inflicting pain, filling with money as whoever possesses it commits more and more unspeakable acts. From Attila the Hun to Hitler it has passed through many hands before it winds up with a rather hapless, down-on-their luck couple (Juno Temple, Michael Angarano).

Premiering Saturday afternoon, the film is the feature debut of longtime commercial and music video director Ramaa Mosley, who found writer Tim Macy and his short story after googling “best short story.” The pair struck up an online conversation that led to adapting the story first into a comic book and then a screenplay. Along the way Mosley invented a website for the Theosophist Society that she intended as a viral marketing tool. Somewhat like the characters in her story, the website got out of her control as people began to believe the tall tale.

“I guess I was happy it was believable in a comparable way to the holy grail,” said Mosley during a recent phone call from her home in Venice, Calif. “It sounds kind of loopy as I describe it now, but at the time I just thought we have to create the legend so that there is some basis for people. And then I started getting emails, ‘Oh I remember this story from when I was a kid.’”

The film was shot last year, with an extended post-production for visual effects. The cast also includes Alexis Bledel, Alia Shawkat and Bobby Moynihan. The film is both playful with its premise, even a bit sexy – Temple and Angarano are nothing if not adorable screen presences – before pushing to more serious ideas. For Mosley, the film’s outlandish premise actually hides simple and related truths about everyday life, commenting on the material drive that consumes so many.

“I would say anyone who works a job they don’t love knows it’s painful. It’s an easy metaphor with the idea of a job as painful and a teapot that pays for pain. We all have to ask ourselves the question over our own diminished joy and lack of happiness to work a job to pay for things we think we need. Is it really worth all that suffering?”



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