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Rush of the Palms (2001)

Two men, one black, one white, are hired by their 'boss' to perform a hit and find themselves at an existential peak of decision when there's an imminent knock at the door.

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... Billy
... Cletus
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Two men, one black, one white, are hired by their 'boss' to perform a hit and find themselves at an existential peak of decision when there's an imminent knock at the door.

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Short | Drama

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4 October 2001 (USA)  »

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engaging Samuel Beckett-ish b&w noir
2 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

I enjoyed this film. Loftus managed to pull off something that I had vague thoughts about in the past: a combination of elements from the classic noir cycle, particularly the psychological claustrophobia of characters caught up in a vast, spiderweb-deterministic world and the existential world of Samuel Beckett.

Yea, verily I say unto you that I was impressed by the film. Too bad it's received such poor distribution to this date...

While I was free-associating vis a vis "what this reminds me of" in the midst of watching this film I first thought of the German playwright Friederich Durrenmatt's Conversation At Night With A Despised Character, and yes, Reservoir Dogs. (By the end, I feel it's NOTHING like Reservoir Dogs. But: it does feel very much like a "guy's" film.)

I'm particularly drawn to a narrative that yields multiple "rich"

interpretations,something with which Palms succeeds wonderfully. I like how Loftus played with the three offstage characters of The Boss, the woman, and "her son". (Is/was Loftus Catholic?) I liked the slowly building paranoia, the oneiristic aspects (esp. Billy's opening dream, where right off you have characters concerned with interpretation in a film that itself will challenge the interpretive chops of the viewer), the multiple miscommunications and misunderstandings, the shattering of character stereotypes, the Beckett-like waiting for something to happen (Beckett: "I can't go on. I'll go on.") and the "talk" which must fill their time, the inner logic of the hypocrisy of hanging a man - unless he's black, 'cuz Cletus has some sort of warped social conscience and historical memory - combined with the almost William S. Burroughs-like satire on colors of corpses. Writer/director Michael Loftus has lots of ideas here...

The lack of personal AGENCY of the two characters, combined with a pathetic likeableness in each, gave me a strong feeling of lost souls irretrievably doomed. And then the director doesn't let us visually witness their demise. What's great about this (to me, at least), is that I feel I've watched a film in which chaos and indeterminacy rule in its universe, yet the strong feeling of noir determinacy operates for Cletus and Billy...it leaves me feeling mentally in disarray, unmoored, a feeling I like. (But I'm afraid most folk don't like this; they want everything wrapped up in neat little bundles. I'm afraid Joe 12-pack [inflation] can't stand more than a dash of indeterminacy. I'd be interested to hear the views of others on this.)

I realize some of my interpretations may not correspond with what Loftus was trying to convey; nevertheless I'm ready to argue about the film, from a post-structuralist framework (EX: Roland Barthes' _The Death of the Author_, etc) about "valid", "conventional" and - usually the most interesting - "overinterpretations". Any takers?

Even though this film runs only 27 mins or so, there's enough stark black and white noirishly-lit images with odd camera angles and an engaging script to merit a repeat viewing from me. If I ever get the chance. How lucky I was to catch this.


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