Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mark Hendrickson's COLOSSUS? Well, it's colossally long -- and thuddingly obvious

Don't know about you, but if TrustMovies had to pick a genre of film in which it's really difficult to get things right, that would be the mockumentary. Yes, This Is Spinal Tap did it early on and relatively well (though not nearly as well as its reputation might imply), and Christopher Guest has made some very funny examples (hit and miss, I grant you, but much more of the former than the latter). Even a clever, unusual and relatively classy moc-doc like the recent Battle of Pussy Willow Creek still proved a little too long for its content and humor.

Now comes COLOSSUS, which begins with a newscast announcing the death -- shot by multiple gunmen -- of a major entrepreneur named Clark Larson, who has long operated out of Russia but who may be from the United Kingdom, since he speaks with a British accent. As played, and pretty well, by the film's writer/director Mark Hendrickson, this guy appears an impressive, if rather obvious, scam artist. His latest scam, which apparently has led to his untimely demise, is creating an "artificial rock band," whatever the hell that is. (No one here seems to know.) That accent, we soon learn, is as phony as everything else about Larson, for we see him alert his current crew to the fact he's really an American. He then bounces back and forth between Brit and non-Brit accents, depending on with whom he is conversing, for the remainder of the movie. This is sort of impressive, but also sort of "so what?".

From the start right through to the film's final shot, we see Larson scamming, and in the most predictable ways.  He's married and has a child (seen above), and has a former wife or mistress (below), with whom has had another kid, and he quickly cons his current and very young "squeeze" out of her apartment so he can use it for the film he is making about this artificial band.

Larson scams crew members, musicians, everyone with whom he comes into contact, in his own especially crass and pushy manner. Are we surprised by anything we see or hear here? Not in the least. One wonders if Hendrickson is new to the movie game? Oh, this is indeed his first film (according to the IMDB), but what I am asking is, has the guy ever seen any other movies? If so, does he not realize that his film is about as been-there-done-that as possible, given all that's come before?

Well, maybe it is I who have simply seen too many movies at this point. Because I had almost zero patience for anything I encountered in Colossus, having already encountered it time and time again. Worse, the mockumentary goes on (and on) for two hours and fifteen minutes. This is unconscionable -- particularly as most audiences will be able to see everything coming well before it clunks its way onto the screen. (That's the would-be, drug-addled songwriter,above)

Hendrickson's film nods to politics and history but in the most simple-minded manner. According to the IMDB, the budget here is estimated at $1,300,000. One wonders if this money came from current Mother Russia, as exemplified by her sleazy son Putin and his gang, since the film finally exemplifies everything that today's Russia stands for: money, power and nothing else. (Which is pretty much what the U.S. now stands for, too, but of course we haven't yet grown the balls to admit it.) But is the film satirizing this state of affairs -- or honoring it?  Hard to say.

In terms of "style," Colossus is competently enough handled most of the time, though Hendrickson's use of split screen when deals are made or arguments fester (above) is simultaneously clunky and not particularly revealing.

When everything's a scam -- wives, kids, girl friends, musicians, deals, the filmmaker, his accent -- we quickly lose interest and have no reason to remain involved. People talk and talk and talk some more, but we don't care or finally even listen. And we certainly don't laugh much: This is failed comedy, too. Even the music, which is purported to be real, proves only so-so. Unless you are very new to film itself, Colossus may come close to the most tiresome two-and-one-quarter hours in your movie history.

Hendrickson's opus opens in New York City this coming Friday, July 19, exclusively at the Quad Cinema, after opening in Russia last month at The Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center in Saint Petersburg. Further playdates? Don't know, for I could not find mention of any future screenings on the movie's website.

In person at The Quad!  Filmmaker Mark Hendrickson 
is said to be appearing daily after each screening of his film. 
So, if you have questions, show up and ask. 
But I would check the Quad's schedule closer to 
the performance you plan to attend, just to make sure.  

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