Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pablo D'Stair's back with a new brain-teaser/ twister, DOCTOR LAWYER INDIAN CHIEF

Pablo D'Stair has returned. Yes: That mystery man (is the photo below even him? I can't be absolutely sure) whose movie, A Public Ransom, we covered a few months back has made a new film -- DOCTOR LAWYER INDIAN CHIEF -- that we agreed to watch and that, like his earlier movie, drove us right up the fucking wall.

Now, a few days after viewing it, I'm still remembering it and sort of brooding over it but wondering why. Really, it's not very good (I'll explain the reasons I feel this way, below). And yet...

What happens in the film -- betrayal, jealousy, murder, or maybe none of the above -- ought to be major. But the would-be realistic but actually tiresomely unbelievable dialog, the hugely repetitive filmic style (a stationery camera that is periodically moved to capture different angles), and especially the characters, who seem to have but a nodding acquaintance with any kind of reality and/or sensible interaction with the other folk we see in the film -- all of this makes the movie utterly minor and very difficult to sit through.

Has Mr. D'Stair somehow hypnotized me into giving him and his movie more credit than they deserve? Ought I to just give up this whole "reviewing" thing and disappear into the night? Hmmm... Enough brooding. What you can expect if and when you sit down to watch this film -- which can be streamed on Vimeo for free, I believe (I did, and didn't even have to use he password I was given) -- is a tale of a middle-aged schlub of a man (Carlyle Edwards from A Public Ransom) who tells his wife (or maybe she's just a girlfriend) that he has been accosted by a fellow at his work who has told him that he was married to her at one time.

"Don't know anything about this," the woman claims, and we're off on a binge of lies and infidelity and all kinds of bizarre stuff -- all communicated to us via conversations between Mr. Edwards and the rest of the cast. As either written or improvised (maybe a combo), these scenes, which are always led by Edwards' brand of stop-and-start awkwardness and inability to say something straight out via a speech pattern that is singular, to say the least, could drive one to distraction.

Whether this is all the actor is able to manage or it is what the filmmaker wants, I haven't a clue. Perhaps it is a combination of both. In any case, due to Edwards' huffing and puffing and his inability to move the dialog along speedily, the purpose here would seem to be to give us scenes that, in the real world, might add up to all of 15 minutes, but here must be stretched out to an hour's length. This is not fun; instead it acts as a kind of filmic torture.

I wonder what D'Stair imagines that he is giving us. It is certainly not art, but neither is it "life" as anyone in my world, at least, would recognize it. At one point in the proceedings, one person says to another. "You're right. It doesn't matter." And this could stand for the whole shebang.  It is difficult to know what matters in the world of Pablo D'Stair.

And yet. (God, I have all these "and yets"...) The cinematography (by Paul Vanbrocklin, who also did A Public Ransom) is often exquisite in its grainy, weirdly-lighted way. These two movies do not look like anyone else's. Oh, yes -- and everybody smokes.

The two leading supporting actors -- Helen Bonaparte and Goodloe Byron, both from A Public Ransom -- are not bad. And the minor supporting players are OK, too. But everything takes too long to unfold -- including the title card that reads "Three Weeks Later" and which seems to stay on-screen for approximately that length of time. Really, Pablo: These are three short words. How long do you imagine it will take us to read them? (Again, this adds to my suspicions that D'Stair is simply trying to lengthen his movie by adding excess time to everything.)

Yet, in his way, D'Stair does tackle relationships and honesty, betrayal and retribution. By asking him to be a more conventional filmmaker, might I be castrating his creativity. Don't know. But he's working on a third film now. We shall see. (If, that is, we can stand all the repetition and attenuation. But maybe the guy will alter his style a bit.)

Oh, yes -- and the end-title song, Don't Fuck With Love, proves pretty damn catchy. You can view Doctor Lawyer Indian Chief now by clicking on  this Vimeo Link. Good luck!

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