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Parent Issue
Month
July
Year
1994
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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Editor' s note: The films reviewedin this month 's column have all been produced by resident Ann Albor filmmakers. These films are available for viewing ovemlght, at no charge, with standard Identification, from Uberty Street Video. Liberty Street's manager, Laura Abraham, says they will gladly semen any locally produced films for inclusión In their "Local Filmmakers" department. For more Information, cali 663-3121. The Adventures of "Mr. Butch" [1 993. Directed by Ju Man Lauzzana. Cast "Mr. Butch." Lauzzana Films. 10 mins.] Rare is the character study that can give lts audience a keen sense of a charismatic personality in less than a quarterhour. Yet Julián Lauzzana pulls off this considerable feat with The Adventures of "Mr. Butch." As Lauzzana tells us eariy in his study, "Mr. Butch" is a homeless African-American who lives near the Kenmore Square area in Boston. Dreadlocked and consciously (if not cheerfully) satisfied with his station in life, "Mr. Butch" panhandles his way through the day, passing along his poetry and philosophy to any and all that will listen. The upshot to Lauzzana's documentary is the fact that "Mr. Butch" is most certainly astreet philosopher. Rhyming his thoughts as he works his district, it's abundantly clear that he has chosen this lifestyle and maintains a strict integrity in his work. The Adventures of "Mr. Butch," then, is not an ode to hopelessness. Rather, it is a bird's-eye view of a uniquely talented street artist, whose performance is literally his life. The roughly half-dozen vignettes that compose the documentary, include a performance of "Mr. Butch" singlngasong, "APIacetoCrash," that clearly gives us a sense of how "Mr. Butch" sees himself and his predicament. There are no apologies here, nor is there a seif-degrading and ingratiating indulgence. Rather, "Mr. Butch" makes it abundantly clear that he needs a roof over his head for the night and he'll play for his living. The MTV-quality of this performance, when set against the other cinéma vérité elements of the documentary, gives The Adventures of "Mr. Butch " a visual f reshness that is both heady and enjoyable. Lauzzana's camera captures the incidental details of "Mr. Butch's"surroundings with as much gravity as he himself handles his sometimes hostile environment. Mingling marijuana, masturbation, and Somalia in a single discourse, "Mr. Butch" manages the not inconsiderab Ie feat of making sense out of nonsense. Or could this be making nonsense out of sense? Taking his unique insight into account, one is never really quite sure where sense and nonsense take up and leave off. Only "Mr. Butch's" Rastafarian and Dada-tinged poetry knows for sure. Harvest Moon 1993. Directed by Geoff rey L. Breedon. Cast: lan Stines, Nadine Bernard, Amy Slier, Geoff rey L. Breedon. Boom Shadows Productions. 80 mins.] Jean, Gabe's girlfriend, only scratches at the surface of the situation, when she exclaims with exasperation, near the end of Harvest Moon, "People get so personal about sex." Geoff rey L. Breedon's latest film, which premiered at the Michigan Theater last Maren, explores the multifaceted ramifications of this statement, with consistently hilarious results. The story of four college-educated 20-somethings unhappily caught in the throes of the Midwest's holy grail - love, sex, and farming - Breedon's clever screenplay permutes his characters' search for meaning with both and genderbending solutions. Nick (lan Stines) is linked uneasily to Sara (Nadine Bemard), and Gabe (Breedon) is linked unhappily to Jean (Amy Siler). But what can one expect when Nick lusts aft er Jean, who in turn is dlsgusted with Gabe, who in turn is attracted to Sara, who's frustrated with Nick, who in turn has an attractiontoGabe, who In turn ...wel, y ou get the story. On and on goes a carousei of mutual physicalattractions and mental antipathies that Is well-worthyofa hipWoody Allen or John Sayles. Intact, Breedon'sscreenplay crackles along with such wit, it easily paces Allen and Sayles at comparable eariy points n their notable filmmaking careers. HarvestMoon has adead-on sense of humor that outshines Sayles' The Return of the Secaucus Seven and is f ar more consistent in the quality of its dialogue than Allen's Take the Money and Run. Unking the narrative of the film, through a series of Ingmar Bergmanesque monologues - that serve as mock-serious asides commenting upon these characters' motivations - Harvest Moon has a lot to say about the perplexing interpersonal mores of the 1 990s. The aggressive "me-first" morality of the last decade, has been replaced by a slacker search for val dat on, which had its last hey-day during the swinging '60s. But by Breedon's reckoning, there's no going back to the good oíd times. Indeed, this is where the communal living arrangement of Harvest Moon has its uncomfortable rub. By focusing his attention exclusively on each person's interpersonal development, Breedon's characters eventually realize that surf ace attraction, sexual attraction, and subsequent caring are three distinctly different qualities of life. The real question, then, is not who mates wit h whom, as much as how much sincerity ultimately takes place in the no-man's land of the sexual battlefield, and at what cost and consequence. The fact that Breedon has managed to craft such a consistent story within the rural confines of his urbane comedy, and not merely slip into self-reflexive parody, is a substantial achievement. Harvest Moon 's easy-going explorat on of human nature meanders its way casually through its carnal discoveries while taking us along for its optimistic ride. The Retards Clean Up [1993. Directed by Anthony Reed. Cast: Leigh Chalmers, Sam Hyde, lan Adams, Damon Numberg. French title cards with English translation. Panoptic Films. 9 mins.] The question Anthony Reed poses in this Eastern Michigan University-generated, short feature is the following: When is bad taste not In bad taste? Fortunately, he provides us with the following disclaimer at the conclusión of The Retards Clean Up: "The Producers of this film do not condone, nor encourage the physical abuse or mistreatment of persons who are French or mentally disabled (except, of course, when absolutely necessary)." Thankfully....One would otherwise have to ponder the symbolic significance of a film that consists of one lengthy sequence, where a mental institit ion 's beefy warder breaks up the merry party of five "retards," watching Jerry Lewis' "The Nutty Professor" on televisión. The unmitigated physical punishment he inflicts upon this gaggle is straight out of the Three Stooges, and their servlle attemptsto clean their ward after he's trashed their party Is analogous to banging a heavy-handed chord on a piano repetitiously. Admittedly, "The Retards Clean Up" does have its moments. Sung Hee Choi's Barton Organ cheerfully accompanies these dubious goings-on with oblivious abandon. And Reed does throw a lot of verve into the pac ing of his questionable premise. For those viewers whose comedy veers towards the Stooges, "The Retards Clean Up" will have a quirky Gallic-f lavored charm. Stil!, taking a cheap shot at the infirm has to be the oldest gag in the book. RATING KEY i& Acting H Cinematography Direction && Editing Ld Narrative Sound Special Effects When a symbol appears follow'mg a titie, it mpïies that the corresponding category s a strength of the movie.

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