Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy loses mind. When you’re young and you’ve been dumped, it doesn’t just feel like the end of a relationship; it feels like the end of the world.
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy loses mind.
When you’re young and you’ve been dumped, it doesn’t just feel like the end of a relationship; it feels like the end of the world. Chick flicks mine this territory all the time, with the plucky heroine doing crazy things to win the heart of the guy she lost — or, more likely, the good-looking best friend who was there all the time. But guy movies tend to shy away from this topic. Maybe they’re worried such a naked craving for love would look a little, you know, girlie.
“Bellflower,” a startling new movie from writer/director Evan Glodell, overcomes this obstacle with the simple addition of flamethrowers and a fire-spewing muscle car.
The hero of our story, Woodrow (Glodell) spends most of his time slacking around with his roommate Aiden (Tyler Dawson) and watching “The Road Warrior” over and over (and over) again.
With nothing better to do (there’s no evidence of any sort of job), the boys imagine living in a postapocalyptic world where they are Humungus, the monstrous villain of the movie. To achieve this dream in their pre-apocalyptic world, they build their own flamethrower and add fiery jets to their car. (And it’s no cheesy special effect, either. Glodell and company really did build those contraptions, and they really work.)
Into this oddball world steps Milly (Jessie Wiseman), whom Woodrow meets at a local bar’s cricket-eating contest (really!). They quickly fall in love (or something close to it) and embark on a spur-of-the-moment road trip, where Woodrow trades his other car for a beat-up motorcycle, mostly because it fits in better with the end-of-the-world theme he and Aiden are working with. But, of course, the relationship sours and, despite her previous warning, Woodrow is shocked when Milly calls it quits. Actually, “shocked” barely covers it.
He’s shattered. Stunned. Devastated. For him, the world just came to an end. Time, in other words, to break out that flamethrower.
Don’t worry, he doesn’t torch Milly, or Aiden or anything else for that matter. (I doubt the film had the budget for those kind of effects.) Instead, we get some pretty impressive shots of Woodrow walking down the streets — the populated, non-blocked-off, real life streets — with a fiery flamethrower on his shoulder and a furious expression on his face. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but it sure looks impressive.
And that goes for the rest of the film, too. Not only did Glodell build the flamethrower and the car, he also built most of the cameras used to film the movie, giving it a saturated, sometimes surreal look.
Adding to the strangeness is the ending, which is deliberately vague, with flashbacks, flash-forwards and cuts to scenes that never took place at all (or did they?) It might be evidence of a first-time filmmaker biting off a bit more than he can chew, or it might be a dead-on evocation of the inside of a broken-hearted guy’s semi-broken head. Of it might be the apocalypse. Who knows?
“Bellflower” is so impressive that I’m willing to give Glodell the benefit of the doubt — and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
And if, after watching “Bellflower,” you’re as curious about how it got made as I was, Oscilloscope’s DVD/Blu-ray release holds some answers. There are behind-the-scenes features, cast and crew interviews and even a segment on the making of that car and those flamethrowers.
For a look at the other side of the crazy love fence, check out “Tabloid,” the new documentary from director Errol Morris. In past movies, Morris has explored the Holocaust, war and pet cemeteries, but in “Tabloid,” he steps into the front line of the battle of the sexes — and between potential romance and possible insanity.
Back in the swinging ’70s, former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney fell in love with a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson. Soon after, Kirk Anderson went to England, and Joyce crossed the ocean to track him down.
And that’s the end of what everyone agrees on. According to Joyce, Kirk still loved her and willingly accompanied her to a cottage for a romantic rendezvous. According to Kirk — and the British authorities — Joyce kidnapped Kirk, chained him to a bed and held him captive. “Tabloid” examines the wide gap between these two stories, with Joyce telling one side and scandal sheet reporters telling the other. (Kirk refused to be interviewed.)
Though it lacks the depth and wonder of Morris’ best films, such as “The Fog of War” and “Mr. Death,” “Tabloid” is a lot of fun. Combining Joyce’s hard-to-believe tale with vintage graphics, photos and typefaces, it takes viewers on a wild ride that keeps getting wilder. Private flights? Nude photos?
Cloned puppies? It’s all there, along with a lot more. When the credits roll, you’re still not quite sure what’s true, but you know you’ve have a good time hearing some crazy stories.
Will Pfeifer writes about DVDs and movies. Contact him at wpfeifer @ rrstar.com or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/willpfeifer/