Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Fantasia ’16: Man Underground
ought to be pretty down to earth (so to speak), but Willem Koda is flaky as
shale. Even his friends (both of them) will admit he is ragingly paranoid.
However, that doesn’t mean “they” aren’t ought to get him in Michael Borowiec
& Sam Marine’s Man Underground (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.
used to be a Federal contractor, but those days are long gone. Now he makes a
poor living as a speaker on the nutter circuit. Todd Buckle sort of inherited
Koda’s friendship from his late UFO-watcher uncle, maintaining it out of
loyalty and loneliness. Koda might have his faults, but he is polite, which
impresses Flossie Ferguson, an aspiring actress stuck waiting tables in her
sleepy hometown. Oddly enough, she inspires Koda to follow-up on Buckle’s
innocent suggestion. The trio will expose the truth by making a microbudget
film of Koda’s life.
a while, this seems almost remotely doable. However, as Buckle steadily falls
for Ferguson (despite her jerkheel yuppie boyfriend), Koda finds the personal
revelations increasingly painful. Of course, he might not be the only one
feeling alarmed by the film’s content, if you know what we mean.
Underground is an X-Files style sf-conspiracy thriller,
but it is actually a wise and sad portrait of a true believer. George Basil has
the appropriate hound dog presence for the world weary Koda. He nicely turns
some surprisingly poignant moments, as when he realizes how he froze out his
long-suffering ex-wife after playing a scene from their ill-fated marriage with
Ferguson. As Buckle, Andy Rocco is also amusingly droll in a laidback, unassuming
way. Somehow, Pamela Fila just doesn’t feel like she fits in as Ferguson, but
its not for a lack of trying.
is definitely a film composed in a minor key,
but it has its rustic indie charms. Basil proves you can fully commit to
character, without indulging in shtick or histrionics. It is a nice film, but
not a revolutionary revelation. Recommended for conspiracy cinema fans, Man Underground screens again next
Wednesday (8/3), as part of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Conspiracy Cinema, Fantasia '16