Saturday, April 30, 2011

What is... "BELLFLOWER"?

S. M. Crowningshield
What is Bellflower? The great thing is that the answer to that question doesn’t matter. When discussing a movie, most people usually begin by categorizing: “You’ve Got Mail is a romantic comedy about...” or “Silence of the Lambs is a thriller where...” or “Indiana Jones 4 is a travesty in which...” It’s the film watcher's equivalent of “What do you do?” at a party. 

We need a place to start before we can have a chat with someone, and we often need the same before sitting down with a movie. Studios know this and design their trailers accordingly. Watch the trailer to Rio and it shouts “I’m fun for kids!” while the teaser for Scream 4 whispers “You and your friends are gonna get scared.” 

But watch the trailer to Bellflower and it says....well, huh. It doesn’t say much. A strong, electronic twang and heavy beat reverberates over a greenish hellscape of smoke and dirt. A black, rough looking car with block letters that spell out Medusa sits center frame. Soon a man walks to the beast of car, gets in. Fire spews from the 5-foot high tailpipes and Medusa speeds away. If you like fire-breathing cars it may foretell awesomeness, but even still...what sort of awesomeness, exactly? Blurbs flash on the screen from the likes of the Onion’s AV Club and the Austin Chronicle talking about “mayhem,” “bromance” and “nihilist love story / vengeance tale.” Even the experts who’ve seen it can’t quite classify it, but luckily that’s not Bellflower’s gimmick. It’s merely a side note. 

Most think of unclassifiable movies as shock cinema, too out there for casual consumption. Or maybe as too arty fare from the French New Wave, films from Godard and Buñuel that take oblique hits at concepts like bourgeois culture that most of us simply can’t begin to relate to. Most of these movies are art for artists’ sake. 

Bellflower is art for your sake. It’s a movie you can bring friends to -- you should bring your friends to. These friends can love the Romanian New Wave, or they can love Avatar. It won’t really matter. And nobody needs to fear the lack of context. For those who need that place to start, you only have to watch the movie. It starts you right off in comfortable territory: real life. From the first frame Bellflower is instantly relatable. So feel free to hop in that big, crazy fire-breathing car. You’ll have a fun ride even if you can’t quite classify it later.
Review written by S.M. Crowningshield
Editor: Rod Webber
Published by Reel Zine
© Reel Zine 2011

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