Sunday, September 07, 2008

ACE Film Fest: Kill Kill Faster Faster

The ACE Film Festival began with a truncated discussion of the challenges facing independent filmmaking. In some respects, the indy film scene has been a victim of its own past success, with the influence of breakout hits, like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, becoming all too pervasive. Now, far from being “edgy” graphic violence and sex, as well as frank language about both, are more derivative than transgressive. A case in point is Kill Kill Faster Faster (trailer here), which screened at ACE.

Frustratingly, KKFF begins with the promise of fresh originality. Gil Bellows plays Joey One-Way, a convicted murderer released from prison through the intervention Markie Mann, a producer who has optioned the con’s confessional play White Man Black Hole. Mann and his vapid show business associates want to romanticize One-Way’s thug life as a paragon of artistic integrity and authenticity. However, One-Way, consumed with guilt for his wife’s murder, contrarily argues there is nothing to admire in his life of crime and addiction. It is the straight family man who upholds his commitments that gets One-Way’s props. A cutting rebuke of hipster values—that’s edgy.

However, things go downhill precipitously when One-Way meets Mann’s wife Fleur, leading to a series of depressingly graphic, but unsatisfying sexual encounters. These are not erotic scenes in the least, but more like exercises in mutual contempt and debasement. Unfortunately, they dominate the second act, making it near impossible to develop a rooting interest in any character.

As One-Way, Bellows has sullen down cold, but never hits any other notes. Esai Morales’s Markie is a basic stock character. Only Shaun Parkes as One-Way’s former cell-mate Clinique shows any screen presence, providing Cassandra-like commentary. Probably the most successful aspect of the film is the score composed by Mike Benn, a musician best known for his work with folk-soul-jazz vocalist Terry Callier (who is also heard on the soundtrack), which effectively mixes blues, crime-jazz, and soundtracky mood cues.

KKFF is based on a novel by Joel Rose, which may well be worth reading. Periodically, interesting ideas do peak out of the screenplay, before being overwhelmed by its indy film excesses. Had KKFF followed through on its early hints of being a morality play with a genuine sense of morality, it truly would be edgy and independent. Instead, it is only another explicit crime drama.