American filmmaker (and #BringBackOurGirls activist) Ramaa Mosley has been winning awards and accolades for her work since she debuted her first documentary We Can Make a Difference at age 16. The doc explored how global pollution negatively impacts children worldwide, and earned the United Nations’ Global 500 Award in Geneva, Switzerland. More awards followed as she turned out a string of shorts, commercials, and music videos. Some of which can be enjoyed on her website, all of which paved the way for her narrative directorial feature debut, The Brass Teapot that premiered at the esteemed Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.
The legend of the brass teapot dates back to ancient times. It’s said to be an artifact that brought great wealth and ruin to the likes of Genghis Khan, Marie Antoinette, Jesse James and Adolf Hitler. For short story writer Tim Macy, this mythic pot was the perfect centerpiece to spin a twisted tale of love and greed.
Enchanted by Macy’s “The Brass Teapot,” Mosley reached out to the writer to collaborate, first on a comic series, then on a film adaptation. In the latter, Juno Temple and Michael Angarano star as a deeply in-love married couple facing financial ruin. Just when it seems they’re at their breaking point, a magical teapot appears that gives cash payouts. But nothing in this world is free. To get those dollar dollar bills, this darling duo must injure themselves to appease the money-spewing brass teapot. As their greed increases, so do the disturbing lengths to which they’ll go to get that green.
Mosley correlated her heroes’ journey with her own in making the movie, telling We’ve Got This Covered, “the level of physical pain that I would have to go through to make the movie” set it apart from the filmmaking she’d done before. “You train to do a 100 yard dash, right?,” She explained. “And that’s what I’ve been doing. I graduated college and I started doing commercials and music videos fifteen years ago, and I have become a really good 100 yard dasher. Then a movie comes into my life and it’s like a long, long marathon. So the difference was just figuring out how to endure that level of physical exertion to keep going because there’s no real comforts on an indie movie. There isn’t the ability to have that director’s chair. There isn’t even a time to sit down. You’re shooting seven or eight pages a day, and in our movie it was stunts and effects in almost all the scenes so it was just full on.”
Though Magnolia was quick to acquire this fierce and funny fable, critics didn’t quite warm to The Brass Teapot. Reviews were mixed to negative, with many deriding the tonal shifts from goofy to dark. And yeah, it can be a bit wonky at times, but in the way that Tales from the Crypt was, veering from shocking to silly, all with an intensely frenetic energy. For me, this wavering tone fit the nuts narrative nicely.
Equal bits horror, comedy, and romance, The Brass Teapot is an odd bauble of modern cinema that relishes in the eccentric charms of Angarano and Temple as well as the strange legend, all while laying in a scathing message about the dangers of consumerism. What Mosley has made is wild, sexy, weird, and undeniably fun. And you can see The Brass Teapot for yourself on Amazon Prime.