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November 04, 2010

Starz Denver Film Festival 2010 - Audrey the Trainwreck


Frank V. Ross - 2010
Zero Trans Fat Productions

I jumped into this film blind. I didn't even read the festival synopses. All I knew was David Lowery, who made last year's terrific St. Nick, served as cinematographer here. How little did I know? Well, there's no one in the film named Audrey, so don't try looking for her. For a while I also was thinking that the film was kinda, sorta, vaguely like what was, and might still be called, mumblecore. Then, at the end, I saw Joe Swanberg's name in the credit and thought to myself that I some weird way I might be psychic.

Would it be laziness on my part to think that there was the influence of Robert Altman. Frank Ross has several scenes with two or more conversations going on, sometimes with the main characters in the background. The camera sometimes darts in and out catching details - a lone egg in a refrigerator, a banana peel on the floor, the back of a young woman's head. The beginning of the film almost feels like barging in on someone else's party - you happen to be there, there's nothing else to do, so you observe the action and come to your own conclusions about what's going on.

The film is about the routines that comprise our lives, or at least those of us who do jobs that are essentially based on routines. Not just the hours of showing up for work, but also picking up coffee at a certain convenience store, lunch with coworkers, meeting friends at a certain bar, or an internet arranged meeting at a certain coffee house. The main character, is a youngish man named Ron, whose routine is briefly disrupted by an errant dart that gets caught in his back. It is the accidents - the dart, a blown tire, a bloody nose - that are the high drama of the lives of the characters in this film, not unlike our own lives at times.

This is the first film I've seen by Frank V. Ross. Of interest is this interview done with Goatdog about seven years ago. With Anthony Baker as his chief muse, Ross has made a handful of features, either extremely low budget or even no budget. This is the kind of film that defies easy classification not simply because it doesn't hew to any genres, but is instead, an observation of daily life. Maybe not everyone's daily life, but still recognizable. In one scene, Ron gets into an argument with a building contractor who feels that what he does is more meaningful than Ron's office work. What Frank V. Ross understands is that while we may feel personally ambivalent about the jobs we have, what we don't want is someone else making value judgments about what me do to get through the day.

(Viewed as DVD screener)

Posted by peter at November 4, 2010 06:26 AM