Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Submission deadlines aside, why was this 2012 film not in any of the major American festivals? Did things only start picking up full-steam, amazing-lineup-wise, in 2013 – at Sundance, SXSW, La Di Da, BAMcinemaFest?

Theodore Collatos is indisputably one of the "new faces of independent film" — I say so. And others will too, if they see this film, along with his two succeeding shorts which are mercifully viewable at NoBudge (Berlin Day to Night and Adam and Joel). We're in the era where the film magazines commission writers to document "how they felt" about the latest festival films (usually 60 words a shot) and to pen extended considerations on the biggies of Hollywood-independent cinema (Linklater, WA and PTA, LvT, Woody Allen). Devoted cinephiles now swap aesthetic samizdat with each other in outlets diverse as tweets, private emails, Gchat, texts, and FB messages. The new way of sharing must-sees-you-might-not-have-heard-of, except, instead of VHS dupes or DVD burns, we trade streaming links caught in the uncurated mire of this-and-that Platform. You can watch Teddy Collatos's Dipso at Fandor.

The naturalism of the acting in Dipso makes the picture an apt complement with Tim Sutton's recent Memphis, discussed in the previous post. Its title promises explosion, and we get it; in a current American indie-scene wrought with narrative-lines of slow-budge cataclysm, Dipso is too exciting and intelligent to induce quarrel with back-to-the-beginning, no-one-wins shit. There's alcohol but this isn't the movie-alcoholic's journey to- or fro- redemption. Alcohol's not even the crutch. Charles Bukowski doesn't kick his girlfriend in the face. There's a stand-up show where the audience at first seems like the only fake note until it goes on and on and you realize Collatos's sense of duration and keen feel for the energy in a room in fact presents precisely the uncomfortable drape that descends on all crowd situations where tides turn on some random jerk's flotsam-shout. À la Kaufman. The stand-up scene bends into total reality. (Notice I haven't used the word "fiction" yet. Triple-bill: Memphis, Joanna Arnow's i hate myself :), Dipso.)

It's the best movie about brotherhood since Brad Bischoff's Where the Buffalo Roam from last year (also on NoBudge) or Harmony Korine's Gummo. Also one of the only movies that portrays burglary from the point of view of the burglars, bungling, okay, but no more than most burglars are in actuality. The brother-burglars chance a bender while they're inside the rural Massachusetts summer-house that's a far cry from their own dining table, from the ramp in the back of the funeral home where the Shaw sons' grandfather's corpse lies barely attended and where they smoke cigs to launch the shaggy-robbery mission of the second half. All the way through this final sequence: Will they get caught or won't they? It's a simple piece of suspense-business, wholly missing from most small-indies, and there are simple, actual stakes for the main characters: who among them number not just Matthew Shaw in the role of Tommy but also the war in the Middle East, the 2010s class war, and the internal conflict that redraws the frontline of a man's ambition with every money disappointment and rebuke of longed love.


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