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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: BELLFLOWER

Written and Directed by Evan Glodell (Oscilloscope Laboratories)


I had the opportunity to screen the new indie film BELLFLOWER and I must say it is a powerhouse of a flick. The film is released by Oscilloscope Laboratories who is building a reputation for great out-of-the-box movies that make you think and produced last years HOWL which I loved. Written, directed and staring Evan Glodell (BEFORE BREAKFAST); who is not just a triple threat here, but may be bringing back the Auteur Theory in the best sense of the concept. Glodell turns conventional film making on it's ear with an exciting visual style, original story-telling and his own emotional performance.

The Medusa Car is one more step to awesomeness..and ruin. 

As for the story it is eye-opening and full of smart left turns. It centers around two best friends Woodroe (played by Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) who grew up together in Wisconsin obsessing over the Max Max films and plotting a more interesting life. The duo grows up to become gear-heads and inventors following their own twisted muse. Traveling across the country and settling in California, they spend their time, collecting guns, building weapons and vehicles with an eye toward an apocalyptic future laid out in their favorite film. Aiden especially envisions the two as future “Lord Humongous of the Wasteland” in the event of world collapse and their “Medusa gang” complete with badass and suped up cars, just like their inspiration. They don't seem to work other than on their projects and spend a lot of time imbibing copious amounts of booze and some drugs. Although they seem like men-children on one hand, they don't seem the least bit bothered by their station in life. They share a steely cool demeanor, although Woodroe is clearly the more sensitive and less braggadocios of the two friends, This sets up a neat dynamic for later on. Their rock solid bromance is interrupted when they meet smoking hot and mysterious Milly (Jessie Wiesman) at a bar one night. Milly and Woodroe have an instant attraction and after Milly beats Woodroe in a live cricket eating contest (eww), they bond and he asks her out on a date. The next night rather than go to a nice place they go to the worst, grossest place Woodroe can think of, an awful truck stop diner. This diner is in Texas and over the next few days on the road they fall for each other. Milly tells Woodroe that she ends up hurting everyone close to her and he disbelieves her, setting up a foreshadowing of later events that is the only thing in the film that is really telegraphed. Upon returning to to California in time for Milly's best friend’s Courtney's (Rebekah Brandeis) birthday party. Aiden is there since he is pursuing Courtney and the party is hosted by Milly's brooding roommate Mike (Vincent Gradshaw). At this point the viewer doesn't realize that the paths of these five characters are on a collision course with misery, but it starts to unfold quickly. While Woodroe and Aiden perfect their flamethrower (!) and plot other creations, the relationship between Milly and Woodroe quickly becomes obsessive and complicated. Milly does in fact hurt and betray Woodroe and he becomes unhinged. This sets up a chain reaction of events that are fairly unpredictable and exciting. Leading to a catastrophic ending with consequences none of the friends and lovers envisioned, the viewer is taken on an emotional roller-coaster ride of lust, rage, trepidation and revenge.

"Sometimes love just ain't enough."

As a story teller Glodell is masterful in his use close and far shots, grainy film grades and alternate focus takes. Flashbacks and sideways time shifts as well as depicted alternate "what if" possibilities shape the story line and make the watching experience unique. Clearly this is not the director's first rodeo and it seems to me his vision of the film might have been complete from the earliest beginnings. I also have to single out some of the locations and the music used as subtle extra characters in the film. BELLFLOWER is not a movie for the faint of heart for some of its well executed violence and gut wrenching emotions, but it is a rewarding watch. This movie definitely rivals anything I have seen this year dramatically and cinematically as well.

GRADE: A

by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes

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