Facets' March 2005 Releases
Jacklight (March 31/05)
Jacklight is an exceedingly well-intentioned little film that's ultimately kind of dull, despite some fine acting by a cast comprised almost entirely of amateurs. The film revolves around five high school friends who reunite years later, and are forced to finally confront the post-graduation death of one of their buddies. Jacklight's been written and directed by Steven Hentges, and it's clear that the filmmaker didn't have a whole lot of money to work with. The lack of budget isn't really the problem here, as Hentges goes for the gusto in terms of imbuing the movie with a cinematic quality. But it seems obvious that Jacklight would've worked a whole lot better as a short, as the film generally suffers from a feeling of overlength; sequences are either far too long or entirely superfluous (this is in addition to a record number of set-to-music montages). Still, Hentges has a good ear for dialogue that sounds authentic, while the cast is surprisingly effective (particularly given their collective lack of experience).
The Last Supper (April 2/05)
Exceedingly melodramatic Iranian film revolving around a recently-divorced professor who finds herself drawn to one of her students, despite the fact that her college-age daughter has her eye on said student. The Last Supper plays out mostly in flashback, as the film opens with the death of the professor (there's also supposed to be a mystery at work here, but you don't have to be Jessica Fletcher to figure out who the culprit is). Filmmaker Fereydoun Jeyrani effectively establishes the plight of the various characters, though any of the movie's positive attributes are undone by the screenplay - which is far from subtle. Consequently, The Last Supper is packed with a distinct sense of heavy-handedness, as Jeyrani hammers his point home (ie the unfair treatment of women in contemporary Iran). It seems obvious that the film has been crafted to appeal almost solely to Iranian citizens, and though it's competently made, there's not much here worth recommending for outsiders.
Sonic Outlaws (April 12/05)
Sporadically intriguing but mostly incoherent, Sonic Outlaws follows documentarian Craig Baldwin as he explores a variety of intellectual property controversies - particularly the exploits of Negativland, a group of anarchists that became infamous after releasing a record that combined vulgar outtakes from Casey Kasem with a U2 parody. Baldwin infuses the film with an incessant stream of clips, photos, and sound bites - presumably in an effort to mirror Negativland's modus operandi - but in doing so, he alienates the viewer almost immediately (ie this makes Tarnation look safe and linear). Sonic Outlaws' message, which is virtually identical to the recent and far superior The Yes Men, is lost underneath the pretentious style with which Baldwin has imbued the film, which is a shame; the few times that the film plays out like a straight documentary, ie by letting people just talk uninterrupted, it's actually pretty interesting. Such moments are disappointingly rare, though (the seemingly neverending collage of video and images generally overwhelms everything and anything else).