Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Movie Review:John 3:33

John 3:33 is a low-budget, local production written and directed by Tim Burr with producing help from Tyler Travis. Since it starred a former teammate of mine, I went to see it.

The Story
John (Phil Stoddard), Jonathan (Phil Stoddard) and John (Phil Stoddard) are three potential life-routes taken that all encounter a terrorist attack in Willamina, OR in different ways.

John, guided/prodded/harassed by a mysterious stranger...maybe an angel, maybe a demon, maybe both or neither, looks at various incidents that may or may not have happened, what they reveal about him, and whether they reflect fate or his own choices.

The story is often confusing with incomplete, incoherent segments with little or no relation to other scenes. This, per Burr's admission, is partly by design. The resolution is left to the viewer's discretion, a tactic often used by movies that intent to be proclaimed "smart". Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

This story has potential, but also some rough edges and ultimately has too many threads which go nowhere. The journey is more important than a clear narrative. If you are willing to accept the vignette-unrelated methodology, it will work far better.

It contrasts with a movie like Crash where seemingly unrelated vignettes ultimately prove to be intimately interwoven and you will see a clear difference between a movie with potential for a memorable experience and a movie that is an ambitious, worthy attempt...but still an early, inexperienced attempt at a feature movie.

He tried to put in some nice touches, like the reoccurring dog appearances...but they were unmotivated and therefore did nothing to add to the story. Had the dog had some purpose for being in random locations, they would have been great.

He had several ideas like this which came close but juuuuuuuuuuuuusssssttt missed.

The Cinematography
One problem with filming a low-budget movie is the lack of budget for certain things. This feature looked like what it was; a low-budget labor of love.

I would guess it was shot single-camera. He did a nice job of de-emphasizing some of the weaknesses...he chose to go low-light as a mood-enhancer, for example, shooting almost universally in dark locations.

He also spent a lot of time with close-ups of faces, actions...even the tearing of a receipt got a double-dose of the close-up treatment.

At times this worked rather well, other times it was somewhat distracting.

This is not standard Hollywood fare. It is an off-beat, somewhat unconventional flick designed not to tell a story but to raise questions in the viewer and stimulate them to thinking about their own life.

If you like slick special effects, pretty cinematography, and a clear story this movie is not for you.

Conversely, if you like unusual, off-center, "personal films", this should be right up your alley.

It will never be confused with great cinema, but there is a place for material like this.

The Weasel is Satisfied


Anonymous said...

Good brief and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

free divx movies said...

Thanks for reviews ! Looking to be great movie. I never heard about it..Hopefully, watch this film tonight only...:)