Dark September RainReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 03/02/06 15:46:09
If I had to pick the point in “Dark September Rain” where the film completely loses me, I’ll say it’s probably right around the point where one character says to another, “We live the crunchy granola lifestyle in 3-D Technicolor!” Because, seriously. Come on. Really?“Dark September Rain” comes to us from Geoffrey L. Breedon, who wrote, directed, produced, edited, and photographed, in addition to taking a supporting role in the cast. Oh, and he also wrote the play on which the film is based. He also writes for a website called The Chrysalis Age: A Handbook for Spiritual and Global Transformation In the New Millennium, which probably should have given me some warning as to what I was about to get myself involved in watching. His film is half snooty student film, half tedious lecture.
The conceit here is that six friends are stuck inside a family farm house in the Midwest on what we’re first supposed to believe to be September 11, 2001; as the story develops, we realize that this is another, future September day, one in which an even greater (yet unnamed) tragedy has unfolded. These six friends spend the next 133 minutes arguing about human nature, violence, politics, spirituality, karma, mortality, and the mystic consciousness. Meanwhile, the ghosts of one of the friends’ ancestors, one of whom fought in World War I, talk to the camera about their life experiences. And meanwhile still, two other spirits (the credits call them “Daimons”) pop up to read quotes from philosophers and writers and journalists and, from time to time, a fake news show called “Late Line.” Oh, and meanwhile even still again, we get archival footage of war and poverty, along with the occasional body count statistic splash across the screen.
Did I mention that this goes on for 133 minutes?
The problem here is that there is no workable story, no interesting characters, no engaging situations. This experimental work is merely an excuse for Breedon to shuffle through various political tirades; it’s all too clunkily thrust forward, to the point where we’re actually expected to believe that young adults actually say things in their day to day life as: “Even Dante wasn’t perverse enough to imagine a hell as deadly as 24-hour shopping channels, MTV, and mega-malls.” Um… what??
Most of the dialogue here comes as the characters simply sit around the living room and debate philosophy. Never mind that they’re all obnoxious grad students talking out of their asses; this just isn’t interesting cinema. It’s static and flat and unbearably dull. The sheer cheapness of the production - shot on digital video (which was then processed into black and white) with little understanding of framing or pacing, with mediocre audio, with tacky fades in and out of just about every shot that suggest the Breedon was so keen on playing with his new editing program that he never bothered to think if such gimmicky transitions actually worked in his favor. Every minute of this production screams “filmed stage play,” and not filmed in a way that makes it remotely fascinating as a visual experience.
Of course, I doubt that the stage play itself would be all that tolerable. The film’s website states that the play ran around three and a half hours, and that’s just way too much. It was a struggle to stay awake during the film version; I can’t imagine being trapped in a darkened theater while a couple of community players blather on and on about textbook philosophy and coffee shop politics.I will be generous to this film, however, and state that those of you for whom a 133-minute dissertation on spiritualism might sound appealing might actually enjoy this experience, in a self help book-by-way-of-museum piece sort of way. Me, however? I just couldn’t buy it one bit. There’s no meat to any of the arguments, no depth to the discussions on world events. It’s all too shallow (and, from a filmmaking point of view, all too amateurish) to have to endure for what seems to be an eternity.
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