Monday, April 25, 2005
Rating: 7 out of 10
When I was in second grade, I wrote a little skit that we (three friends and myself) performed for the class. A simple scene. Carla and I played the two children, and Gary and Renea played our parents. Scene opens on Carla and I arguing about what we want to watch on the television. We were loud, rude and hyper. In an effort to shut us up, our poor parents asked if we would be quiet if they gave us each a lollipop. Hushed, we nodded. Of course, candy will sooth all ills; this is a universal truth. And so they handed us each a sucker. But hers was bigger than mine. More screaming and wailing from the naughty siblings. End scene.
Simple, but perfect in design. Or so I thought. The teacher, in my first and most stinging bit of critical evaluation (so painful because I had urges for her that I didn't understand at that age -- well, actually unnatural for my tender age, but that is a can of worms we ain't opening in this review), explained that while she understood the humor, she felt that there was entirely too much shouting and arguing. It made for a trying experience.
So why go to great pains to elaborate on a seminal event in my dysfunction as a writer? Well, this IS a review of "Actress Apocalypse". But, you wonder, what the hell does that have to do with anything? I'll explain.
"Actress Apocalypse", written and directed by Richard Anasky, is, if you didn't know better, a behind-the-scenes film of the making of "Clearwater Canyon". Never heard of "Clearwater Canyon"? No one of any note has either. It was a no-budget film about a big, gay killer Indian (Native American, I assume) who slaughters women who all hope the Army men will come save them. Unfortunately, the film never got past the audition stage. In-fighting, inept crew, no-show actresses, disorganization and an accidentally-on-purpose killing or two kinda derails things.
Confused? It's okay if you are. You've been dropped into the mockumentary world of "Actress Apocalypse". All bets are off, as are the clothes of the young actresses who audition for the film within the film. You are in the hands of David Lincoln, the director of "Clearwater Canyon", his psychotic brother Vance, and the two crew memebers, all who operate at about 180 decibels for the bulk of the "documentary". The rest of the time, you are confronted by a brain-bending onslaught of subliminal images that will disturb you more than anything on the market. You will see what the world of truly independent no-budget filmmaking is like (I had a taste of it from playing a detective in a student short film in college). And you will also see a couple of very beautiful young actresses who will never show up at your house if you decide to make your own crap film, so don't even ask.
So why the trip to my second grade class at the beginning of this review? Simple. Most of this film reminds me of the comments handed to me by my teacher. Too loud, too much shouting and arguing, too shrill. I swear, every time an actress insults the on-screen filmmakers, you'll be wanting to back them up. Actually, you'll be wanting to backhand the shit out of both David and Vance Lincoln. The thought of these guys still makes me tense. I finally GOT what my teacher tried to tell me in second grade.
But, that does not make this a bad movie. I found myself, though annoyed, laughing at some of the insane moments of the film. I believe that there is more truth to what you see in this behind-the-scenes film than you can imagine. Oh, I hope every production isn't a screamfest, but the weird power struggles and last-minute reworking of everything is no doubt accurate. So the intention and basic content of the film makes for worthwhile viewing.
Add in the fact that this film is a 90-minute tribute to visual overkill, and you have enough to keep you busy with your "pause" and "slow" buttons on your DVD remote for the next month. Honestly, I was constantly stunned by the bombardment of flashing images, most so fleeting that "pause" buttons have trouble capturing these "blip-vert" (sorry for the Max Headroom reference) moments. I can only assume that the editing of this film must have been fueled by buckets of coffee and crank.
In the end, I have to ask myself if I liked "Actress Apocalypse". Yeah, I did. It wore me out and wore me down. It gave me a mild headache. But it never failed to leave me shaking my head trying to figure out how in hell anyone could cram so much stuff from so many different directions and keep it focused and almost convincing. If you are fine with massive nudity and non-stop visual and audio assaults and want to see something most unlike anything else out there, order yourself a copy of "Actress Apocalypse".
Just don't blame me if you have seizures from the strobe-like editing. Really. Don't blame me.