Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dan Eberle's THE LOCAL makes DVDebut

A low-end Brooklyn crime movie, THE LOCAL is the work of one, Dan Eberle (below), who writes, directs and stars in this weird mix of gritty realism and sentimentality that occasionally walks the line -- but never falls over it -- between stylization and over-the-top camp. You could call the film a vanity pro-
duction, I suppose, since it's pretty

much all Eberle, all the time. On the other hand, the guy has charisma. He's easy to watch, with a muscular body built for action and a face that may remind you of Mickey Rourke. As a performer, Eberle is just fine; it's the writer/director part that gives him some problems.

The Local offers us a lead character with no name. In fact, the credits list him as "Noname." He's (way) down on his luck, living in a friend's basement and doing drug runner jobs for 30 bucks a pop when he near-
simultaneously comes across a pretty young druggie, a suddenly abandoned baby, and a group of people, including her father, who dearly wants that pretty druggie back in tow. It takes one-third of the film to kick the plot into gear, another third is devoted to action-movie vamping (with one weird scene in which Noname and his "client" are knocked out, tied up and then made to fight to the death with some big lug who seems to enjoy killing), and then we have the expected finale that's been set up since that one-third mark.

The movie begin and ends with the remark that one can change his lot in life (the phrase even appears on the DVD cover), which leads to a little cheap-jack philosophizing between Noname and the film's most interesting character, an older woman client, played well by first-timer Janet Panetta. Of course you can change what you're given in life, yet the movie hardly bears this out, except in the most unbelievable of ways. Our lead character appears broke, but then he sometimes seems to have money; he's so strong he can easily beat the shit out of a hulking opponent -- except when he conveniently can't; he's off drugs -- clean -- until he's not; he's perfectly able to do his job one day, unable the next. When everything seems arbitrary, believability drains away -- and never more so than toward the finale when, in order to build a little suspense, there's suddenly a cop around when we haven't seen one during the entire movie.

Still, Eberle draws generally good performances from his cast -- which includes Maya Ferrara (above right, with Eberle) as the druggie -- despite giving his actors only so-so situations and dialog (the lingo used here often walks that same line between stylized and campy). The star himself certainly knows how to hold the screen, so perhaps his next outing will be more productive.

You can purchase The Local via Amazon or rent it from Netflix (although my queue this morning informed me that there's a very long wait, which may bode well for the movie's popularity).

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