Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DWF ’12: Fuzz Track City

It is time to kick it analog style with a detective who does not own a cell phone.  Frankly, Murphy Dunn does not care how people take his throw back style.  He just isn’t in a customer service frame of mind throughout Steve Hicks’ Fuzz Track City (trailer here), which screens during this year’s Dances with Films.

Donning his leather jacket amid the Southern California summer, Dunn is suffering from serious “June gloom.”  Still grieving his late mentor-partner “Shakey,” Dunn has also recently separated from his suddenly pregnant wife, Al Jackson.  Dunn’s veneration of the old school Shakey has him stuck in the 1970’s, but in way, that makes him the perfect gumshoe to track down a mysterious 45 single.  It is not exactly a case he formerly accepts.  However, it is apparently intertwined with the disappearance of his former high school guidance counselor’s son.  In retrospect, Dawn Lockwood might not have given Dunn the best counseling, but he still has a school boy crush on her.

Just knowing one-hit-wonder Zack Lee and his British New Wave thugs are desperate to find the privately pressed garage rock McGuffin is enough to give most of the game away.  Nonetheless, FTC’s retro vinyl love is pretty cool, as are the frequent nods to 1970’s era action movies.  Dunn clearly owes a debt to “The Dude,” but he is more of a loser than a slacker, which at least makes him a fairly distinctive protagonist.

Indeed, Todd Robert Anderson is rather engaging as the shaggy dog detective, playing the born-loser part scrupulously straight.  He also serves as the film’s heart, convincingly pining for Jackson, mourning Shakey, and sort of-kind of taking not-as-tough-as-she-thinks-she-is aspiring musician waitress Jo under his wing.  It is also nice to see Dee “E.T., Cujo” Wallace [formerly Stone] as Dunn’s mature fantasy client.

Frankly, FTC is not exactly a love letter to Los Angeles, but it digs rock and has a fair handle on the record collector’s mindset.  The mystery might not be mysterious, but it moves along at a breezy tempo, sprinkling in a fair number of laughs along the way.  Admittedly, it is not a great movie, but it is an enjoyable one.  It deserves a look-see from the right crowd when it screens next Monday (6/4) as part of the 2012 edition of Dances with Films, appropriately enough in Hollywood.