J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NYFF ’12: Up the Valley and Beyond (short)


He has been called the most successful independent filmmaker of his era.  Yet, there was no secret formula to his films.  The hallmarks, so to speak, of Meyer’s oeuvre are impossible to miss.  Todd Rosken dramatizes the sexploitation pioneer’s creation story in Up the Valley and Beyond (trailer here), which screens as part of Shorts Program 1 at the 50th New York Film Festival.

Meyer was a war hero, as he is happy to explain to anyone who asks.  During the post-war pre-Mad Men era, he sets out to reinvent himself as a pin-up photographer.  However, he has difficulty finding a subject that truly excites his artistic sensibility, if you will.  Then a colleague refers him to Eve Turner, a diva model whose qualities unmistakable—both of them.

Meyer fans will be surprised the grindhouse auteur never even picks up a movie camera in Valley, so there will be no behind-the-scenes treatment of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  Still, Rosken and co-screenwriter Bobby D. Lux cleverly hint at the roots of frequent Meyer motifs.  As Meyer, Jim Parrack’s performance is somewhat akin to Johnny Depp’s Ed Wood, portraying his earnest gusto with almost guileless naiveté.  In contrast to Wood though, Meyer’s cinematic vision is easy to “get,” continuing to reverberate with fans decades after his glory years.

Although it is part of the shorts program, Valley would also be a good fit for NYFF’s Cinema Reflected sidebar.  It certainly captures the enthusiasm of a particularly idiosyncratic filmmaker.  Quite a presentable period production with a number of affectionate laughs, Up the Valley and Beyond is recommended for all cult movie fans when it screens this coming Monday (10/1) and Sunday, October 14th, as part of the first short film programming block at the 2012 NYFF.

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