Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Zachary Oberzan's FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID: Eat your heart out, Stallone!

When you were a kid, didn't you want to create something that was all yours: where you, and only you, did the acting, directing, set, lights, sound -- the works? (I know: Certain adult film-
makers still cling to this vision.) Well, now you can see what just such a thing might look like, as Zachary Oberzan and his not-just-DIY-but-DI-all-Y movie FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID gets a week's run at Anthology Film Archives.

Evidently not content with the film version of David Morrell's novel First Blood, Oberzan (shown in every visual in this post) elected to remake that book in, yes, his own image -- filming the entire thing in his tiny New York City studio apartment, using various found objects as stand-ins for the real thing -- a kitchen toaster for a two-way police radio, a sleeping loft as a mountain (see shot at bottom) -- and then essaying all the roles himself. That's right. Short of the foliage, every other living thing in the movie is played by Oberzan. (Whoops, wrong: there's a snake, shown above, that he kills/eats in one scene that looks to be Papier-mâché or fabric.)

The result? Gheesh! What can one say? The very idea of this coupled to the fact that Oberzan has actually executed it is mind-boggling enough. But damned if the thing doesn't kind of sneak up on you and take hold -- rather like one the parasites in David Cronenberg's They Came from Within (aka Shivers). Early on, we chuckle at this guy playing everything from the Rambo character and the cop who's chasing him to the cop's dad, a waitress, helicopter pilot, moonshiner, and more. The kid plays some roles much better than others, differentiating noticeably between only certain characters. (He also does a full-frontal nude scene, for which he clearly possesses the necessary equipment, and he handles even this quite capably.)

Once we get over the quirk of the role-playing, we begin notice all the little gizmos the guy has transformed from their original usage into another more creative (my favorite is the "helicopter," below). We also become aware of his mash-up of the apartment set, including some highly creative visuals, as well as the occasional simple note attached to a door informing us that behind it is, for instance, a hardware store. Eventually, despite all misgivings, the movie begins to coalesce.

While it is a help to have read the novel or seen the original film, my companion -- who had done neither -- found the film easy enough to follow, and for the most part fun. I have never read Morrell's novel (the author is said to be a fan of Oberzan's adaptation), and it has been literally decades since I have seen the original film, directed by Ted Kotcheff, and so I can't swear to the following. But it seems to me that Oberzan must be adhering closer to the plot of the novel than to the original screenplay of the film, which appar-
ently was watered down considerably for the movie version. Conse-
quently, his little lark begins to grow in stature as it moves along.

This is due to some extent to the actor playing both the role of the protagonist (above, left) and antagonist (above, right), which in many ways are quite similar -- two sides of the same cracked coin. This lends a weird justice and justification to the proceedings, as does the fact that Oberzan plays the antagonist's father, too (see below). This brings the generations together nicely, and anyway: Aren't we all "one"?

The look of the film is purely homemade (trust me: the cinemato-
graphy often seems no classier than the stills shown here). Oberzan is on record as stating that he laid out in cash less than $100 bucks to make the movie (and on what, I wonder did he spend that money?). Still, there are so many photographic effects and editing necessary here, that if he'd had been able to pay himself even a $10 hourly wage, I'd wager he'd have earned $10,000.

Despite its silliness, despite the ridiculousness of the concept and its execution, despite even the fact that the film is too long (longer by ten minutes than the Kotcheff version!), Flooding with Love for the Kid packs a weird wallop. While I hope Oberzan's film does not start a trend (imagine a flock of one-man/one-woman movies based on everyone's favorite novel or film: War and Peace, anyone?) I am more than happy to have sat through this little amazement. But what on earth will the movie-maker do for an encore?

Flooding With Love for the Kid begins its week-long run at New York City's AFA on Friday, January 8. You can find the schedule here (click on the movie to see performance dates and times).

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