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Parent Issue
Month
July
Year
1996
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Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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Editor1 nota: The films reviewed in this month's column nava all baan producad by resident Ann Arbor filmmakers. Thasa films ara availabla for viawing at no charge with Identification at Ubarty Straat Video. Liberty Street Video's manager, Laura Abraham, says thay will gladly add other locally producad films to thair "Local Filmmakers" dapartmant For mora Information, cali 6633121. SEDUCTION STORY [1992. Directed by James Bonner. Cast: Rob Poole, Chung Fung, Heather Jenkins. Otherfilms Inc. 30 mins.] A local video solely by virtue of its proximty, Seduction Story has all the polish of a Hollywood feature. James Bonner's Michigan State University project won him a student Emmy in 1993 and it had its televised premiere on the Bravo Channel in 1 995. Rob Poole stars as William, a university creative wríting teacher who finds himself playing cat-and-mouse with an anonymous female student He gradually moves himself towards a confrontation with her finding himself wanting to encourage her growth as a wríter while also desiríng the intimacy she promises. Yet the unsettling nature of William's situation also hints at dangers no sensibly mature teacher would ignore. He must theref ore choose whether or not to descend into the maelstrom - in whose vortex he cannot fully phantom - to weigh his personal and professional weaknesses. Bonner's wealth of Michigan talent in Seduction Story helps him to set up a superbly bewildering delivery. Cinematographer Lon A. Stratton and film editor Gregory Harrison help him portray William's psychological unraveling at a deceptively leisured pace. But Bonner's firm fingerprints are to be found all over his production. The self -assured rhythm of his narrativo timing indicates he's a talent who should have a lengthy career ahead of him. The same could also be true of his leading man, Rob Poole. Poole plays William's conflicted idealism and moral conflict with disarming ease. One of those rare actors whose features are seemingly photogenic from all angles, he signáis his character's selfdisillusion- ment with a compelling naiveté. Perhaps most important, Seduction Story's qualityshould be heartening for all local dependent filmmakers. Bonner's production clearty llustrates how technical expertise can compénsate for the shortcomings of lowbudget facilities. What remains is having a story to teil coupled with the ability to translate that plot into a compelling cinematic narrative. Closest to the commensurate Michigan independent film production in recent years, Seduction Story is more than a mere whodone-it. LJke Richard Rodriguez's fabled El Mariachi, it's first and foremost, a textbook how-to-do-it When Bonner's career takes him to more prestigious vehicles, we'll be able to say we saw him when .... LIVING IN LIBERAL HEUL [1995. Directed by Laura Abraham. Cast: Jude Walton, Justin Vanpoelvoorde. A Third Rail Initiative, 9 mins.] More a visual tone poem than motion picture, Living in Liberal Heli describes itself as "a touching, heartwarming look at the budding romance between two strangers who meet one afternoon in a local coffee shop." Right ... and Charles Bukowski wrote for Golden Books, too. Laura Abraham's narration in this short film slams her viewer with a face-first expietive-laced invective whose fury culminates in a visceral climax discharging in more ways than one. Make no mistako about it. Her narrative is poetry. (SEE NEXT PAGE) RATING KEY ft Acting H Cinematography Direction E Editing fa Narrative Sound Special Effects When a symbol appears lollowing a title, t implies that the corresponding category is a strength oí the movie. (FROM PREVIOUS PAGE) It's also lyricism of the rawest kind. Her noholds-barred approach towards life, love, and the search for happiness, hurtle this screed forward with an uncompromising audacity that lacerates the magination. Indeed, the film's troubled title succinctly captures a social milieu of contemporary life whose shattered illusions run through the soundtrack like a sharpened switchblade knife. Irrespective of other weighty considerations, Abraham's ferocious words exposé an acute understanding of the permissive pandering liberáis sometí mes confuse forfair-mindedness. This insight in turn says life on these terms - if taken to its farthest conclusión - would most certainly be life in heil. Whether or not Abraham's poetry is an rate representation of liberal politics is Irrelevant What is relevant is the strident conviction she brings to the open-minded tolerance that political correctness sometimes fosters. Abraham's sharp language, sharp intelligence, and sharper uncompromising visual imagery, clarify the boundary between liberalism 's cultural guise and its social reality. Cleverly pivoting her work somewhere between guerrilla theater, the theater of the cruel, and the theater of the absurd, Abraham steamrollers romance. One of the film's viewers says watching Life in Liberal Heil gave her the "warm fuzzies" - and it could certainly do that. But the attentive liberal-minded viewer will probably get as many warm "fuzzies" nervously traveling up and down his or her spine as anywhere elsë.

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