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And Then Gummo Jumped Off A F**king Bridge

By Brian Prisco | Film | September 16, 2009 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | September 16, 2009 |

I warned you this day would come. When film festivals and film schools are left to their own devices, they will revert to the ways of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine. Enter Chris Fuller, a 21-year-old filmmaker, who is our unmaking. He brings unto us Loren Cass, a trite, loosely structured narrative supposedly about teen life in the aftermath of the 1996 St. Petersburg, Florida race riots. Allegedly taking almost a decade for this unholy abomination to foist itself upon the arthouse crowds, Fuller has managed to create something worse than even Harmony Korine could imagine. There is no story. There is no logical narrative structure. There’s hardly any semblance of character. It is the cinematic equivalent of American Beauty’s floating plastic bag. Knowing three chords and caterwauling into a microphone might make you punk, but it doesn’t make you a musician. Well, filming arbitrary things and putting them together doesn’t make you a filmmaker either.

I seriously cannot give you a plot description. Nothing of any substance happens. There’s a skinhead and a mechanic who get into fist fights with a gaggle of black kids who drive around in a white van. The only female character works in a diner and spends all of her time having sex with guys. In her bedroom, in other people’s bedrooms, in the backseat of her car after work. She’s like the Sam-I-Am of fuckpuppetry. Everyone is miserable. Everyone wants to leave. The end.

It’s been compared to Larry Clark, and that’s a misnomer. Larry Clark is a lazy filmmaker who likes to include lots of pubic-hair filled shots of explicit fucking. Chris Fuller is a lazy filmmaker who likes to includes lots of close ups of shoes. I suppose his overarching message is that after such a dire incident, life gets confusing and everyone spends all their time wandering and in shock. I understand that, but I didn’t need an 83-minute pastiche of overlong landscape shots and inexplicable close ups of inanimate objects for someone to express that to me.

Most of the film is narrated by two punk rock musicians. I only know this because I looked it up on the internet. What it really sounds like is Fuller didn’t have a soundtrack, so he looped together old spoken word albums and occasional footage of the St. Petersburg riots from television. There are actual, entire sequences where the screen is black while we listen to some drunk punk ramble. I could have shot this movie from the front stoop of my apartment in Allston. Then again, I was there when the Sox broke the curse. I saw a guy with a mohawk hug a cop on a horse. I didn’t see a kid dye his own sideburns with blood fresh from his nose from his recent beatdown like in this movie. But the two punks’ rambling beats the hell out of the weird saxophone wailing that makes up the other half of the soundtrack. According to the internet again, there is one punk rock song performed by a band whose lead singer died shortly after filming. He is far better off than the audience.

There are two scenes of note. One involves the character of The Suicide Kid, who is played by the spaghetti-eating bather from Gummo. He spends two brief scenes chugging from a whiskey bottle at a party. Eventually, he gets up, climbs in his car, drives to the Sunshine Skyway bridge and then jumps off. It’s actually shot really interestingly. It’s the only good part of the film. Especially since we see that fucking creep from Gummo die. But, this scene is the only a linear plot development. The shots are sparing but make sense when linked together. The lone car flashing on the side of the road delivers a jarring coda. It works.

The other scene involves the real life footage from Budd Dwyer’s televised suicide in 1987. Google it if you want to, I refuse to fucking link it here. Dwyer, a public official caught in a scandal, called a press conference, made a speech, and then — on camera — placed a .357 magnum in his mouth and shot himself through the top of the head. As he slumped to the ground, blood fountains from his nose like a full-turned spigot, pouring down from the gaping wound in his skull as cameras continue to roll. It’s haunting and unforgettable. Why it’s in this movie, I have no fucking idea. It doesn’t belong there, it’s not adding to anything other than we just saw Gummo commit suicide, and it’s extremely graphic and horrifying. I’ve seen it used one other time — in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. Where contextually it makes sense. Here, in this, it’s just pointless and fucking despicable.

Loren Cass has received accolades and numerable positive reviews as being daring, groundbreaking, and outstanding. Which just goes to show that film critics are fucking morons. Including myself — because I didn’t walk out. I sat, and endured every dreadful, trite, cliched, annoying, horrible fucking moment. I thought — surely, something will happen. Chris Fuller may have wasted ten years of his life to get this film made, but I wasted two hours of mine. And fat as I am, that’s borrowed time.

Brian Prisco is a bitter little man stomping sour grapes into fine whine in the valleys of North Hollywood. He’s a screenwriter who’s never been professionally produced, an actor who’s never joined a guild, and a director who made one bad film. He’s one waiter apron away from a cliche, and he’s available for children’s parties. You can tell him how much you hate him at priscogospel at hotmail dot com.