Monday, Sept. 13, Whitsell Auditorium:
Flooding with Love for the Kid
is a big screen adaptation of First Blood
(that's the 1972 David Morell novel, in which Rambo is an asshole and dies in the end, not the 1982 film bastardization in which Sylvester Stallone is a hero and lives on for three sequels), filmed, acted, produced and edited entirely by one man in his apartment for $95.51.
It's the kind of thing you expect your “wacky” unemployed buddies at college to concoct, or to go viral for five seconds on YouTube. So what's it doing at an arts festival
, receiving 500-odd-word reviews from professional journalists
The man behind (and in front) of the camera is Zachary Oberzan
, a New York actor and musician, and founding member of the acclaimed Nature Theater of Oklahoma (which is also performing at TBA). Oberzan created a popular one-man play for the company called Rambo Solo
, in which he talked an audience through the same story live, and this film grew off the back of that show's success. It received a heap of press from the likes of the New York Times
, Village Voice
and even the Guardian
, and now, here we are, 2,500 miles away, watching it at the Portland Art Museum.
Not to detract from the time, passion and sincerity that has obviously gone into this project, but if my wacky college buddies had made this, I think it's unlikely to have made it beyond screenings at their filthy share houses (seriously, get a job, you guys; we graduated five year ago).
Which isn't to say this isn't an enjoyable little film. Watching one man single-handedly perform a chase scene involving four cops, a helicopter, a pilot, a pack of dogs and a deranged fugitive, using only items in his apartment and cheap green-screen effects, is as funny as it sounds.
And those who have only ever seen the Stallone version will enjoy discovering the far darker, more nuanced story of two war veterans battling each other and their own demons of the original novel.
Oberzan's acting is passable, accents laughable and range commendable; he successfully creates 24 unique characters—one dimensional, yes, but each one-dimensional in their own distinct way—and although some of the dialogue-heavy scenes plod a bit, he does a good job of making the conversations seem real.
After a while, the bookcases, bad props and home-made special effects largely fade into the background (with one notable exception towards the end, when Rambo roasts a teddy bear over a fire, which is hilarious, but I don't think that was the artist's intent), and the narrative becomes engaging enough that you'll want to it see through to the bloody end.
If some college kids made it, I'd think it was a hoot. If I saw it on YouTube, I'd click the “like” button. It's silly and entertaining and full of heart. But it's not art—or not good art, at least. And it's probably not worth paying $9 to see outside of someone's dorm room.
movie critic Aaron Mesh reviewed Flooding with Love for the Kid
's TBA preview package
last week. Read his (far more positive take) on the film, here
GO: Northwest Film Center Whitsell Auditorium at Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park St., 8:30 pm Tuesday-Wednesday. $8 members, $9 general.