Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Alienated: a Trufer Learns the Truth is Out There
wondered what it would be like if Edward Albee wrote an episode of The X-Files? Maybe something like this. Nate’s
wife does not want to hear his crazy UFO talk. Frankly, she is mostly done
listening to him altogether. Unfortunately, he just might be right this time.
Communication is a challenge and intimacy breeds contempt in Brian Ackley’s Alienated (trailer here), which opens this Saturday in Los Angeles.
9/11 conspiracy theory nut, Nate is so unappealing, even the aliens probably
won’t want to abduct him. Eventually, we will learn why Paige is so justly
exasperated with Nate, but during the early going, we can just assume it is
because he is a lazy, immature man-child. Evidently, Nate is easily distracted
by things, like specious engineering claims and the UFO he thinks he filmed on
his camcorder. Paige is not inclined to take whatever has his so fired up
seriously, which leads to a “fine, I won’t show you,” passive aggressive snit.
Yet, somehow their blind neighbor Griffin understands exactly what is going on
in the skies and in their bedroom. Just when sighting reports start to creep
into the local newscast, Nate and Paige finally start to really have it out—and
it will be more brutal than an alien probing.
ways, Alienated is not unlike Richard
Bates, Jr.’s Trash Fire, except
Ackley completely downplays the genre elements in favor of the scathing
relationship drama. In each film, the troubled couples know exactly what to say
to hurt each other, which they will do without reservation. In this case, Ackley’s
dialogue is much less sarcastic, but it leaves even more blood on the floor.
Jen Burry and George Katt go at it as Paige and Nate produces mixed, vacillating
reactions. Sometimes their commitment is absolutely awe-inspiring, but as the
effect accumulates, it sort of makes a viewer want to rip their face off.
Still, you cannot be lukewarm in your response. However, as Griffin, the late
Taylor Negron (a scene-stealer in 80s comedies like Better Off Dead and Young
Doctors in Love) is eerily mystical without ever going over-the-top.
Something about his too infrequent scenes ring weirdly true, evoking memories
of odd encounters with awkwardly straight-talking strangers (or the times you
have decided to unload a random truth-dump, if you happen to be that guy
Alienated can be uncomfortable to spend time with, but the
integrity of Ackley’s approach is impressive. He somehow he also manages to
maintain a sense that something cosmically ominous is about to happen just
outside our field of vision. The evocative alien art seen with the openings
credits greatly helps establishing that vibe right from the start. Recommended
for those who appreciate extreme chamber dramas, Alienated kicks off a week-long release this Saturday (4/16) at the
Acme Theatre in Hollywood.
Labels: Taylor Negron, Trufers