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Christopher Doogan is dressed nicely, walking along a street in a marginal neighborhood at night in the fog. He passes a street preacher, and later goes into a church. Later he goes into a somewhat sleazy-looking bar where people are surprised to see him. Like the fog we see outside, we're not at all clear on what is going on in the early minutes of this film.
I saw this at the Camera Cinema Club in Silicon Valley, CA on 10/20/2002. The director, R.T. Herwig, was there to answer questions afterwards. He said that the film is an "emotional tone poem," and that making an understandable narrative was not his main focus. That's good, because the film was often fuzzy.
But despite the fact that the story is apparently not very important, you might still want to know about it. If you don't, you should *skip* the rest of this paragraph... Christopher has just been released from prison were he has been for a few years for his part in a robbery of some sort. Christopher loyally took the fall for a man named Banion and the rest of his gang, but Christopher isn't sure he wants back into a life of crime. He goes home, where his parents and grandmother live, and is welcomed except for by his retired-firefighter father. And later in the film, we learn, not surprisingly, that Banion has plans to use Christopher for at least one more job.
The film was shot on Super 16 and blown up to 35mm. Despite some people saying that it looked good, I thought it looked very grainy, especially in darker scenes like the church. It was shot in 14 days, and the finished film feels like it drags on nearly that long - it really needs some significant trimming. The performances by the unknown cast vary from marginal to good, but even the better actors are sometimes given very stilted lines to read. And the lead actor is way too short to plausibly be the child of the actors who play his parents.
On the positive side, the direction is more interesting than most mainstream films, probably because the director sincerely seems not to care if this film makes money or not. The camera angles are tilted more often than they are straight, which effectively conveys the subjectivity of the main character's mind, while possibly also keeping the audience more detached (one audience member's reaction). The film is made up almost entirely of long shots, both in terms of camera distance and the time between edits (one memorable shot is of a dinner, shot through the spindles of a railing, with two spindles visually keeping the three diners separate, and all done in one very long take).
I would probably give the film a slightly lower rating than I have, except that the director was very entertaining, despite his obvious discomfort at being in front of a crowd. He says he was depressed when he made the film, and it shows. He repeatedly brought up "Charlie's Angels" and Jackie Chan films, more or less saying that since his film is more original than those (which were popular), it must be good. He sited John Ford as his biggest influence, and "The Informer" as the film closest to what he was trying to make here.
I would recommend this film if the director will be there to answer questions afterwards, such as at a film festival. Frankly, I would be surprised if this film ever sees a normal distribution, but if it is (and the director is back home in the Philadelphia area), I would marginally recommend *against* seeing it.
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