Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dave Ash's sequel to 2021 -- TWIN CITIES -- to premiere at Film Invasion Los Angeles


Every so often, but far too rarely, TrustMovies views a new film by an unknown filmmaker that deserves a much wider viewing public than this little blog can manage to provide. Such as film was 2021 (click here for a review) and so, too, is the new sequel to that film -- TWIN CITIES -- by Minneapolis-based filmmaker David Ash. His new film, in fact, is even more ambitious in concept and execution than his earlier endeavor, though it is not quite as effective as 2021. It is still more than worth seeing, and I hope it will jump-start this "local" filmmaker to national prominence.

Mr. Ash, pictured at right, continues his tale of two oddball lovers, John and Emily, who met and tried to form a relationship in 2021. Now, they're married, she's expecting, and John -- as bi-polar and troubled as ever -- is about to discover something about his health that will change everything. Or not. What is real and what is not get quite the workout here, in terms of both what happens to our characters and the game the filmmaker is playing with us viewers. Not for nothing is Ash's movie titled Twin Cities. Yes, it takes place in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, but its narrative, too, is broken into two distinct strands/sections that, while they play off each other, are also quite impossible to meld.

The first section/story seems to belong mostly to John (played again with amazing force and commitment by Clarence Wethern, above, left), the second to Emily (again, the equally committed and talented Bethany Ford Binkley, above right). It's wonderful to see them together again, playing off each other with such rapport and skill.

John, above, struggles with those same old demons (his mental state and a job that he is extraordinarily good at yet does not want to do), while Bethany, below and now pregnant, has written a best-seller and finds herself blocked concerning that second novel, which her publisher is anxiously awaiting.

In the movie's second section, all has changed, and rather drastically -- yet so many details are so similar but also exactly different. The parents in section one belong to John. In section two, they are Emily's -- with the major health issue transferred from one sex to the other. (That's "mom," played by Mary Beidler Gearen, below).

This splitting of the narrative into two strands is certainly interesting, but I do not think it adds anything to the characterizations, which proved much stronger in 2021. It may make us think and think again about some of the philosophical points raised by Mr. Ash (who both wrote and directed) concerning life, death, religion, faith, work, love and more, but I don't believe the use of twin narratives actually adds any more depth to the discussion.

It does give these actors plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their chops -- which they do. (That's Gabe Angieri, playing Dad, above.)  It also shows the filmmaker's wonderful rapport with those actors. He, along with his writing, draws such immediate, specific and emotionally compelling performances from his leads, which also include Peter Christian Hansen (below) as Emily's significant other in the second section. that scene after scene grabs you and does not let go.

Mr. Ash, along with his treatment thus far by the independent film establishment and its critics, brings up an interesting point regarding insider and outsider art. A film I covered earlier this week -- Matías Piñeiro's Hermia and Helena -- is a perfect example of "insider" art:  Piñeiro's work is beloved by insiders and the filmmaker, in his latest work, even uses many of these people in his film. His latest is too long and so thin that it practically disappears while unspooling. But his work has caught critics' fancy bigtime (mine included, at least where one of his earlier films is concerned).

Ash, on the other hand, living and working in Minnesota yet producing some masterful stuff, remains an outsider. Really now: It's time for a change. Maybe new exposure for Twin Cities will foment that change. Do you have to have already seen 2021 to appreciate Ash's latest film? I don't think so, although seeing them both can only increase your enjoyment and connections.

As I mentioned in the headline above, the movie premieres next month on June 11 in L. A.at Film Invasion Los Angeles. Click here for more information and/or here to purchase tickets.

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