Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights




Evan Glodell has made a strange, vicious, creepy, fascinating, hyper-romantic little movie, a visionary melding of David Lynch's Blue Velvet and David Fincher's Fight Club with a spastic splash of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.  High style without losing itself in style, the movie zooms out and back into itself in fire-breathing intervals; the cinematography exhibits symptoms of high blood pressure, each scene and image coming at you in a dizzying swirl of unmedicated colors and textures.  (Joel Hodge, the cinematographer, cannibalized lenses and parts to create a new kind of camera to shoot the film, and the result is both visceral and virtuoso, like a Hot Wheels commercial directed by Lucifer Himself.)

The plot and atmosphere have a major Lynchian scorch without the latter-day Lynchian propensity for self indulgence.  Two dumb-ass buddies in California spend their days building a flamethrower, inspired by their childhood obsessions with a VHS copy of Mad Max.  For a break they go out to get wasted and meet up with two girls who party all the time and wreak havoc the way only white-trash party girls who party all the time can. Glodell plays the main dumb-ass Woodrow, a sweet, kind, enthusiastic dweeb who falls in love with Party Girl Milly (played by Jessie Wiseman, an actress that re-brands the Scarlett-Johanson brand with more junk in her trunk and more innocence in her eyes). 

Eventually Milly ends up hurting Woodrow really bad by having sex with some guy in Woodrow's own bed.  Woodrow catches Milly and the dude and loses it, driving his motorcycle into an oncoming car.  The movie then spirals into a dream/not-dream epilepsy that reveals the madness, ecstasy, torture and glory of lover's scorn transforming into perpetual revenge.  For all its flame-throwing and booze-soaked antics, however, Bellflower is lushly romantic, a sort of meditation on what it means to be "masculine" without caving into the pseudo-masculinity most movies try to reify.  Woodrow is a sadsack Mad Max, adolescent, pouty, and possibly brain-damaged; his gorgeous fury and  nihilism form the center of Bellflower's core meltdownThe energy of the film-making allows Woodrow's desperation to intermingle with the memories of your own misspent youth.  By the end of this thing you feel like you were at an all-night party in hell with Woodrow and his peeps.  You wake up with a beautiful hangover.