Monday, March 8, 2010

On-Demand: Thomas L. Callaway's odd BROKE SKY--American Gothic Texas-style

There are some who refer to the American independent movie BROKE SKY as film noir.  Hardly.  A movie's dark qualities do not automatically make it a noir.  American Gothic by way of Texas is more like it.  But that's plenty good enough.  This odd little "buddy" movie, with its weird cast of characters, is relatively original, especially because it does not look down on its people -- chubby, crazy and cretinous as they sometimes are.  Viewers may grow to appreciate them as much as does their creator: writer/director/cinematographer Thomas L. Callaway, whose first film this is, after a long career as an interesting cinematographer who works a lot.

Callaway creates people, a place (small Texas town), and a time (today, more or less) and shakes it all up into a 97-minute character study/comedy/thriller that works, for the most part.  A good cast led by Will Wallace, shown foreground, as Bucky (the sweet 'n naive one) and Joe Unger, bringing up the rear, as Earl (the smart, cynical good ol' boy who mentors the younger man).  But wait, all it is not as it appears.  Not by a long shot -- and the biggest flaw in the film is that it insists on giving us one surprise too many.

Until that finale, however, the film moves along pleasantly enough, with good work from all the supporting actors who are able to turn what could easily be dross into -- if not gold, at least -- nice, shiny metal.  This is particularly true of Barbara Chisholm as the heavy-set wife and Duane Whittaker as the sheriff with his heart on his sleeve.  They're both quite good.

Good-but-not-great pretty much defines Broke Sky, yet another example of a pleasurable find On-Demand that puts to shame much of what mainstream Hollywood is currently delivering.  It's available from IFC on most major TV reception providers. Click here (& scroll down some) to learn if yours offers it -- and if so, how to get it.

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