|THE PROJECTIONIST (director/writer: Ryan M. Kennedy; cinematographer: Nicolas Canton; editors: Nina S. Matter/Richie Williamson; music: Spyros Poulos; cast: Russ Russo (Jacob Nicks), Natasha Alam (Ivana), Doug E. Doug (Marlon), Joseph R. Gannascoli (Frank), Kiowa Gordon (Private LockLear), Stan Carp (Tito), Zahir Zahrieh (Waiter), Matthew D'Olimpio (Ivana's date), Robert Miano (Sully), Dominik Tiefenthaler (Detective Tom Nicks), Chris LaPanta (Lt. Sullivan); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Atit Shah; Kickstarter; 2014)|
hard-hitting tale of human carnage hits too close to home in the
contemporary scene to be dismissed without
provoking some thought about how we treat our
by Dennis Schwartz
Ryan M. Kennedy in his maiden directorial effort
goes the Scorsese "Taxi" (1976) route with this
challenging but grim low-budget indie tale, shot on a
digital camera called the Arri Alexa.
It paints a gloomy portrait of a messed up war hero
soldier returning to civilian life with insomnia and
a bad case of untreated Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder, after being tortured as a POW for eight
months. Depressed good guy Jacob Nicks (Russ
Russo) is a loner who lives in a cramped tiny
apartment, that's filled with movie equipment, in
a poor Brooklyn neighborhood. Jacob works at a
dead-end job as a movie projectionist in a
dumpy local movie house. The gaunt young man is
relentlessly haunted by his army days and walks around
at night like a zombie. That he receives no assistance
for his serious ailments by the government he served
during wartime, tells you all you have to know about
how the government values its soldiers.
The always brooding Jacob relieves his misery by visits to the hard-assed Russian-born prostitute Ivana (Natasha Alam), who gives him 'sympathy lays' while openly treating him with contempt as a loser. But dumps him over a few incidents that violate her privacy.
empty diner, open late at night, the grave-shift
worker Jacob meets a polite talking homeless black man
named Marlon (Doug E. Doug), who after
treated generously to free coffee and a meal by the
projectionist turns the vulnerable guy onto heroin and
he soon becomes addicted.
alienated Jacob goes on a steeper decline as his
addiction makes it not possible to function at work,
and his unsympathetic movie house boss (Joseph R.
Gannascoli) cans him.
ongoing self-destruction, the former soldier can't
adjust to civilian life and gets trapped in a world of
illusion, misery, addiction and violence, and can't
stop his free fall. The soldier feels he can only come
out of his shell by himself and does so in an
unhealthy way when he sees himself as a man with
nothing to lose and also nothing to live for.
noir-like black and white cinematography
(except for the beginning and ending), the frightening
dark night shots of a seedy deserted neighborhood and
the winning heart-breaking performance by Russ Russo
make this sad melodrama watchable despite that it's
not for everyone because of its unpleasant subject
matter. The hard-hitting tale of human carnage hits
too close to home in the contemporary scene to be
dismissed without provoking some thought about how we
treat our soldiers and how inhumane is out treatment
of the mentally ill.
REVIEWED ON 2/12/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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