A genre parody in which hipsters imagine their lives as though they were taking place inside a 1950s film noir, "Black Days" is an inconsistent pastiche in which all you can count on is how unbearably smug the whole thing is. The feature is seemingly intended for noir buffs, but they should be among the first to realize the pic's wrong-headedness.

A genre parody in which the characters are self-aware hipsters who imagine their lives as though they were taking place inside a 1950s film noir, “Black Days” is a tonally inconsistent pastiche in which all you can really count on is how unfunny and unbearably smug the whole thing is. The feature debut of co-writers/directors Ari Margolis and James Morley III is seemingly intended for noir buffs, but they should be among the first to realize the wrong-headedness of the enterprise.

Structurally ambitious, pic borrows a bit of inspiration from Alan Resnais’ “Smoking” and “No Smoking” to tell the way-ward romantic adventures of sly graphic novelist Ty (S. Greg Gardner) and sultry femme fatale Gwen (Shiva Rose) in a style that allows for multiple narrative ruptures, treating time itself as an endlessly malleable commodity. At any given point the action may stop, jump back in time and resume along an alternate course, but it all leads nowhere, and pic becomes excep-tionally taxing well before it’s half over. References to “Sunset Blvd.,” “The Big Sleep” and such contemporary noirs as “Basic Instinct” abound, evidencing the filmmakers’ familiarity with their chosen terrain.

Black Days

Production

An Artful Dodger and Jonx/Dottie the Dog Prods. presentation. Produced by Matthew Rose, Ari Margolis, James Morley III. Directed, written by Ari Margolis, James Morley III.

Crew

Camera (B&W, Super 16mm), Christopher Scarafile. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 23, 2001. Running time: 79 MIN.

With

S. Greg Gardner, Shiva Rose, D. Reynolds, Nick Roye, Matthew Winberg, William Knight, Sarah Silverman.
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