Saturday, October 31, 2015

DVDebut: Miguel Llansó's Ethiopian-set sci-fi festival hit, the kooky, charming CRUMBS

What a pleasure it is to see a post-apocalyptic narrative set in something other than the burnt-out drudgery of a wasted planet. While CRUMBS, the first full-length feature from director Miguel Llansó, takes place partly in a desert-like locale, much of the movie offers the verdant, hilly landscapes of Ethiopia, a country I warrant most of my readers have rarely seen on film and never traveled to themselves.
Nor have I.

This alone makes Crumbs worth a look for film (and geography) buffs. There's more, too, for the movie is often as goofy and sweet as the look on its director's face (Señor Llansó is shown at right). In concept and in its often remarkable visuals, full of odd juxtaposition and connections that don't quite adhere, Crumbs is a treat for jaded filmgoers fed up with post-apocalyptic emptiness, violence, horror and depression. To take their place, the filmmaker has come up with a hero like no other we have seen, embodied by a very particular actor named Daniel Tadesse (shown below).

Tadesse, with his misshapen body and handsome, expressive face (the camera roams over both of these) plays Gagano, a collector of scrap and any other items that might come his way -- the film is full of what we might call "collectibles": present-day artifacts that one hopes may gain value over eons to come -- and these bizarre pieces (from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurine to a Michael Jackson record to a Baby Jesus creche piece) seem to have done exactly that.

Gagano lives with his true love Birdy (the graceful Selam Tesfayie, shown foreground, above) in an non-working bowling alley they now call home. And... Well, that's mostly it. There's little plot to speak of here, and what incidents there are -- a visit to a so-called "witch,"  the appearance of a very perverse Santa Claus (below) and a someone-or-other wearing a Nazi arm band (further below) who seems to menace our hero but not really -- only serve to attenuate an already thin tale.

As clever and visually enticing as Llansó has made his movie, this viewer at least felt the plotting and execution to be inordinately slow. While this does give us time to try to piece together a meaning to it all -- What's that spaceship doing up in the sky for so long without moving? Where do our twosome's food and water come from? What's real here (if anything) and what isn't? -- there is not much meaningful that I could piece together.

Still, I enjoyed very much the look of the film, and the performance of Tadesse, below. Because the movie is a mere 68 minutes, the DVD also offers two other short films by Llansó, both starring this unusual actor.

Crumbs, released via IndiePix Films as another in its "highly-curated collection of the best independent films from around the world," hits DVD this Tuesday, November 3, for sale or rental, with its digital debut following close at hand on November 17.

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