Friday, July 31, 2009

Nightbeats Screening: A Look Back


It's a fair gesture to assume the screening of "Nightbeats" [at the Crest Theater in Sacramento, CA July 29, 2009] a success. It confirms, director, Mike Carroll's trust in, not only the audience but the collected integrity of the film all together. The silence of the room during the screening denotes a firm interest in what was presented; along with the applause during credits, all of us involved felt a sense of relief even in the possibility of splitting the viewers.

Some may not have "understood" the film. Its dense presentation supports the warning sticker "FOR ADULTS ONLY" -- which can be taken as lascivious outer play or tasteless attempts for pornographic rhetoric pawned off as "artistic expression." In truth "FOR ADULTS ONLY" translates the film's demand for maturity; it strips away the ideology of entertainment for its own sake and confesses the utopia of "a thinking person's film."

Carroll, himself, sat biting his nails. In tune with every sound erupted from the viewers. One can imagine the hypersensitivity to his person along with the high shouldered excitement of the cast and crew involved. What made the screening difficult is "Nightbeats" leaves very little room for laughter -- often the saving grace from the perspective of contributors -- which can break the tension for the artist and provide insurance of the audience participation.

Carroll does not let his audience off the hook. He takes us by the collar and places us in the path of emotion and makes us dangle in the presents of all the imperfections that come along with the heart's tolerance. The most uncomfortable moment in the film is the seduction of Galen Howard, as the young solider Harold, and Foxworth; she takes a male position of disabling his innocence for self satisfaction while leaving the exploited Howard in post-climatic machismo that will later destroy his life and cripple his sexuality; this concurs with the rabid vulgarity of Lola -- played by Francesca Natividad -- with the naive Ginger (played beautifully by Julianne Gabert who manages to achieve the much envied power of presence) as well as the heartless rebound of Cece (the wonderful Kelly Nixon) in which Lola yanks her gutter life into the hands of destructive sexual imbalance. Carroll hammers home modern feminine sexuality without exploiting gender gaps. He does not play out male fantasy in shallow circumstances but rather explores his curiosity for female limits by way of philogyny -- a trait shared by filmmakers like Jonathan Demme, David Cronenberg and Fran├žois Truffaut (and merely imitated by the likes of Lars Von Trier, Quentin Tarantino and Mike Figgis). Nor does Carroll present hope or fabricate his ending with grotesque utopia. Instead he blends the stylization with cause and effect; alludes to forward motions of life while leaving the carnage to blow in the dust. In the final shot of the city at a distance, with the rippling water beneath us and scattered fingers of David Blanchards brilliant musical contribution, the audience is drop jawed to revelations that are vivid enough to conjure denial. The ugly world we live in we often stifle to its positive outlook and eschew our latter-day faults as fractions of an "old self."

The screening's aftermath was equally dense. Carroll, bravely, resisted justification of his film. He allows it to linger. "Nightbeats" penetrates the psyche and populates the gut with crammed discomfort, which erupts curiosity (the kind of curiosity only capable within the loins of ADULTS) and provokes study. He did not want to make a film for the moment. Carroll sought longevity and avoids pop culture. He embraces cinema, down to its bare celluloid, and contributes to the ideology of cinematic purity. This is a rare accomplishment without manipulation; a brave pursuit without pretensions; a gutsy reach that avoids self indulgence. "Nightbeats" stands as one of the proudest moments in my creative life. A moment I will hold close and proudly represent for years to come.

About Me

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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.