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1 item from 1991


'Talking to Strangers'

26 December 1991 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Falling into the strange, experimental and sporadically entertaining category is Rob Tregenza's ''Talking to Strangers.'' This 1988 film consists of nine continuous-take shots, each about 10 minutes long, filmed with a continuously moving camera.

Making its New York premiere at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, ''Talking to Strangers'' is not as innovative as it sounds. Hitchcock beat Tregenza to the punch by about 40 years with his truly innovative ''Rope.'' Although the two films are diametrically skewed, this unusual technique makes for an equally unusual viewing experience.

Experimental cinema buffs, as well as budding filmmakers, should prove to be the best potential audience for this film. Obviously Tregenza wasn't going after the mainstream crowd, but even the majority of art-house afficionados will have difficulty getting involved in this barely connected series of stories.

The ever flexible camera follows Jesse (Ken Gruz) from one bizarre encounter to another. Aside from Jesse himself, there is absolutely no continuity between segments. The upside to this is that if one set of characters, or a particular event, turns you off, you know you only have to sit through it for 10 minutes.

On the other hand, if you're fortunate enough to like one of the ''strangers'' that Jesse meets, you might find it alienating when he or she abruptly leaves the screen, never to be heard from again.

Herein lies the inherent nature, and overall problem, of ''Talking to Strangers.'' It's not the kind of film where one can sit back, relax and become a silent participant. The erratic quality of story lines and performances throughout keeps the viewer off balance and on edge.

There is a fascination factor involved with seeing how the camera will follow Jesse into several seemingly difficult situations. And, there are some intriguing vignettes that keep us hoping for more.

But ultimately it becomes a case of ''so what?'' Who cares about Jesse and this potter (Sara Rush) with whom he just spent the night? Are we at all interested in watching Jesse annoy three nuns who are just trying to enjoy a boat ride?

The scene where a gang of hoodlums gets on his bus and gang-rapes an older woman, while terrorizing Jesse, is the only moment that feels frighteningly real in this film. There are individual moments that stand out, and a character or two who genuinely capture our interest, but the underlying problem with the whole mess is that Jesse, and his existential journey through ''life, '' are not interesting. Sorry, Jesse, but that's the sad truth.

The camerawork by Tregenza and Arthur Eng turns the camera into the most important ''character'' of all. It takes us through these occasionally absorbing scenarios, but remains a much more patient and willing observer than the viewer could ever be.

TALKING TO STRANGERS

The Baltimore Film Factory

Director-writer-camera Rob Tregenza

Producer J.K. Eareckson

Camremote-snorkel operator Arthur Eng

Color

Cast:

Jesse Ken Gruz

General Marvin Hunter

Ms. Taylor Caron Tate

Priest Henry Strozier

Angry man Brian Constantini

Slick Richard Foster

Trigger Linda Chambers

Potter Sara Rush

Running time -- 92 minutes

No MPAA rating

(c) The Hollywood Reporter

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1 item from 1991


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