Indie Corner

INDIE CORNER: WINTER 2005 / 2006

By • Jan 15th, 2006 •

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THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR FILMING MACHINES

Daring – that’s the one adjective you can use when describing independent filmmakers. This month, I had the pleasure of viewing three new independent films. I had the extra pleasure of having been part of one of these films.

As I write this, the fate of Jill Carroll, the brave young American reporter kidnapped by terrorists, hangs in a frightening balance. It makes the tag line for WELCOME TO FALLUJAH (“Winning a war is like winning an earthquake!”) prove all too true. This is a harrowing 15 minute short boldly directed by Australian Richard Gibson and starring the great Lance Henriksen, whose credits include ALIENS, NEAR DARK, THE RIGHT STUFF, and DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Henriksen plays Daniel Crane, a friendly Australian engineer working in Iraq. Terrorists kidnap him, and ready this beaten, terrified man for a videotaped beheading. Crane’s only wish is to tell his wife that he loves her. There is a plot twist that is all too obvious, and savvy audience members will pick up on it in a heartbeat. When the expected ending is pushed on us, it’s all too real. The film hits the audience like a cold bucket of battery acid! Even the most hardened viewer will get squeamish. To me, harshly violent movies have a reverse effect – they tell us this world needs more kindness.

Richard Celenza Jr’s INSANITY is a video-game-styled look at conspiracy theories. The filming here is a little too flat, and it works. It gives the film’s plot, centering around an honest detective up against government scandals, hit men, cover-ups and more a strange documentary feel. Editing-wise, it’s presented in an action thriller style. It felt like somebody made a video game out of existing footage of the Three Mile Island incident, or the JFK Jr air crash (Long Island conspiracy buffs believe the plane was willed into the water by space alien mind control. Enough of my sidetracking.) INSANITY is a lot of fun, and moves along like a nervous breakdown on a broken roller coaster ride. Hollywood tried with a film called CONSPIRACY THEORY (with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts) and it was just …. well… okay….

In the summer of 1985, BACK TO THE FUTURE became that year’s top moneymaking film. I liked it. It was fun, safe, and aimed to harmlessly please. That’s the summer I worked on STREET TRASH, a whacked out comedy-horror-coming of age film that centered on melting winos. You would think, during that summer, safe is the only way to go. Feh! STREET TRASH’s producer, (and our editor) Roy Frumkes made THE MELTDOWN MEMOIRS, a new, exciting feature-length documentary about how this film came to be, what it took to make such a crazy movie, it’s marketing and what became of the people involved.

I showed MELTDOWN MEMIORS to my friend James, who is curious about film, but was never involved in film-making. He found the doc highly informative (it covers the fun stuff – like how fight scenes were staged – to important stuff – like dealing with lawyers and child labor laws). James told me it was one of the clearest peeks he’d had into the cogs of movie making, and it made him curious to see STREET TRASH.

Keep up the good work, you Indies! This world tends to be one big loony bin at times. Somebody has to film it!

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