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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OAKLAND UNDERGROUND is an interesting and often tongue in cheek
mockumentary which follows the more difficult than not efforts of
amateur filmmaker Eliott Richmond (Ron Marasco), a serious but
frequently emotionally volatile bloke, and his crew, to capture on film
occult activity in Oakland California. What begins as a simple
documentary on his hometown quickly becomes an "expose" piece after the
filmmakers witness a disturbing sight through someone's high rise
Richmond, his brother Tom (the sound guy), camera man Ron, and assistant Olga (these people play themselves by the way) begin to seek out interviews with locals who are familiar with Chaos Magick occult groups (as some of these interviewees also play "themselves" I am inclined to believe they are not actors, but rather real experts on the subject matter). As they research and investigate, they get deeper and deeper into the "Oakland Underground". Of course this means, their lives might just be at risk if they run into the kind of people who don't want this kind of exposure. It would seem that some groups are simply practicing a religion and also practicing the "do others no harm" thing, while other groups have no problem imposing themselves on the lives of others i.e. human sacrifice and whatnot.
This film will most likely be boring if you are not into mockumentaries or if you can't stand movies without Tom Cruise or Jessica Alba. I, however, dig this kind of stuff. There is a lot of clever dialogue and laugh out loud funniness, as well as some stuff that comes off as very creepy and unsettling. What really impresses me, is the entertainment value of Richmond's character. He sees himself as serious, but comes across as a bit pretentious, egotistic and whiny, until he gets deep enough into the subject matter that he begins to realize that he is making a film similar to the "Blair Witch Project". Marasco (I've never heard of him before) is really a good actor, and he gives Richmond the delirious personality described a few sentences ago.
I'll give this film an A...even when the film seems to be "dragging", as some mockumentaries do, it really isn't if you listen and pay attention. There is always something happening, even if it is one of Richmond's tantrums or whinefests. I also liked the actor who played Peter ?, Richmond's "prime suspect" and Jeremy Sisto has an interesting role as a "very grouchy man" living in a doorless slum with his huge pitt bull dog.
I like this movie. The beginning is very funny. It turns into a very bad movie. It is bad to the point of liking. I am from Brasil and we do not get very many bad films from Hollywood. This is the best. I must write more lines about the man who is the star. He is a crazy man. I want to go to Oaklandone day. Love, Naeem P.S. - email me if you like.
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