Friday, October 2, 2009

Loren Cass

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just because one comes out from a movie like this saying, "I could do this", doesn't mean it's a bad thing. In fact, for all we know, this film could have been much more difficult to make than it appears. After all, it took almost eight years to complete. But the simplicity behind it -- pretty much no character or story arc, and wordless at times -- is what makes this a good film.

If you go into the theater knowing there isn't much to the story other than people wallowing around during the time of the 1997 St. Petersburg Riots, you'll appreciate the movie for what it is. If you're expecting "Apocalypse Now" or "Lord of the Rings", you'll find this film boring and dull. It's not that you don't get it, it's just not your cup of tea. But don't criticize a film because it wasn't what you expected.

The film's soundtrack is wonderful. It either fits the mood of the film, or goes completely against the mood which makes things feel disoriented which is what we expect most of the characters to be like every moment of their lives. The amateurish and authenticity in the acting is also worth a looks -- it's very plausible that when we see these characters throwing punches at each other, they're actually fighting; and that if we see characters drunk, they probably had too much to drink. You don't see films like this frequently and it's nice to have another filmmaker like Chris Fuller added to a short list of such underrated and fearless directors like Larry Clark and Harmony Korine.

Fuller is also impressive because of some of the strings he has pulled to get this film distributed. While your average person may not know Din Thomas, Jacob Reynolds, Keith Morris, Blag Dahlia, the band Leftover Crack and Robert "Bob" Hawk; all of the above are notable people who have participated in the production of this film. You also have to wonder, not only how such a young filmmaker could get such a budget and amount of notable cast/crew, but if Fuller actually had a permit to film on the Sunshine Sky Bridge, the St. Petersburg Pier and the house of the late writer/poet/painter Jack Kerouac. Whether Fuller had connections or pulled some strings, it's impressive.

The only thing that should be criticized is the footage of R. Budd Dwyer's public suicide. While one can argue that its inclusion helps the audience feel uneasy and hopeless, it's actually nothing more than a copout. If Fuller wanted to further express such a mood, he should have done it through characters, soundtrack and/or story like he was doing the first hour and the final fifteen minutes of the film. It's also exploitive. Dwyer's inclusion is completely unnecessary, as it has nothing to do with anything. Just because a character jumps off the Sunshine Sky Bridge doesn't mean there's any comparison to R. Budd Dwyer shooting himself at a press-conference. The only comparison is that they're both suicides, and that is very weak storytelling.

One can understand that somebody who wants their film to be known relies on word-of-mouth, and the best way to accomplish this is shock value. But to add footage of R. Budd Dwyer just shows that Fuller is being a little too desperate. Because of this (and until Fuller comes to his senses and removes the Dwyer suicide), "Loren Cass" can never reach must-see value because the majority of its viewers are just going to watch for the few short (but haunting) moments of Dwyer committing suicide.