Friday, November 30, 2007

Jones @ The Pioneer Theater

A few months back, Susan P and I ventured daringly into the arctic theater of Anthology Film Archives (their air conditioner was an all powerful malevolent being that night I swear) and the strange lands of no-budget filmmaking. We were there to check out Jones a first feature from Preston Miller. Having read about the DIY film movement a lot this year I figured I ought to give more no-budget films a chance. I wasn't going to write about this one assuming none of you would get a chance to see it but it's coming out on DVD and playing for one week in December at NYC's teeny-tiny Pioneer theater. I've been there a few times to see films that are so miniscule they don't even show up at the bottom of box office mojo's weekly 100+ movie chart.

Jones starts off rough but at a merciful 76 minutes (I like the short movies) it's worth sticking with. It begins with an uninterrupted shot of a married man in a hotel room on the phone. It's all half conversation and partial views, filmed in real time and very unmovie. The opening scene goes on too long without much information coming at you. I'd venture to say that this is a dealbreaker scene for many viewers and considering this is a no-name indie, festival programmers too --you know they don't watch all submissions all the way through! I'd also imagine it's a common no budget filmmaking mistake. It's totally crass to make this comparison but, bear with me here it's what popped into mind, the original Star Wars is a good example of how to open an unknown property with no stars and no rooting audience interest to begin with. To some incalculable extent you've got to start with an earthshaking bang. If you've no budget go for tiny tremors.

Still, I'm happy to say that the film gets much better after that. What we've got here is a sly real time comedy with the sad undertow you'll invariably get when confronting addictions. The substance abused here is sex, or more specifically, Asian prostitutes. Jones (the frequently naked Trey Albright) is on a business trip but he can't stop thinking about sex and his job isn't distracting him sufficiently (you'll see why). You don't realize all of this immediately but the payoffs do come. Jones rewards the patient viewer with amusing punchlines, all the funnier for having to wait for them in real time.

Jones may be slight, but I enjoyed it. This is a welcome edition to the burgeoning mumblecore movement, Miller's clever guerilla filmmaking (NYC filmmaking without permits!) and his game lead actor create a funny/sad character study.

1 comment:

Megan said...

Unrelate - sorry! I know that's annoying but I was sure where to inquire. Will Josh Brolin move up in your best actor predictions, ya think? What did you make of his performance in "No Country for Old Men" - I thought it was great.