Review: ‘Tweek City’

Compulsively viewable until its zonked-out, speed freak hero's aimlessness stops the movie dead in its tracks, Eric G. Johnson's "Tweek City" plugs into the downwardly spiraling world of a young man haunted by a lost love, a tragic family and an all-consuming paranoia. Late-night fest habitues will be first in line.

Compulsively viewable until its zonked-out, speed freak hero’s aimlessness stops the movie dead in its tracks, Eric G. Johnson’s “Tweek City” plugs into the downwardly spiraling world of a young man haunted by a lost love, a tragic family and an all-consuming paranoia. Late-night fest habitues will be first in line, although they and distribs may find that the sizzling and woozy visuals are not enough to compensate for an ultimately flat and familiar narrative.

Unable to keep a job at a Bay area computer company, Bill (Giuseppe Andrews) falls back on dealing speed. San Francisco hasn’t felt so ominous since Richard Lester’s “Petulia,” with the Haight and Mission neighborhoods stuffed with shady characters, young speed heads and pompous poseurs.

The closest thing to a friend in Bill’s life is the aptly-named Jerm (Keith Brunsmann), who likes to ogle the porn mags featuring Bill’s gal-pal Jenna (Eva Fisher) when he isn’t leaping into mosh pits during gigs by vet rockers White Trash Debutantes.

Because he can’t get over losing past g.f. Sharon (Elizabeth Bogush) — who’s about to get married in Southern California — Bill ventures to the ceremony, but not before tragedy hits Jerm, and Bill goes on a bender of paranoiac delusion.

Johnson mixes film and video formats to superior and nerve-rending effect, and his taste for run-and-gun scenes produces some disgusting but choice moments, such as Bill’s gross coitus interruptus with Jenna.

Johnson doesn’t know where to take his drama, though, once Bill crashes Sharon’s wedding, and a protracted finale in a drive-in has none of the intended evocative impact.

Bill is finally an impossible character to pin down, but Andrews gives body and soul to the role in ways that recall the daring of Al Pacino in “Panic in Needle Park.” Pic carries the ultra-low-budget indie banner high with strong production values, and composer Jim Latham’s trance-like theme is sure to get inside viewers’ heads and not let go.

Tweek City

Production

A Tweek City LLC presentation in association with Traveller Film. Produced by Eric G. Johnson, Caitlin Maynard, Yule Caise. Directed, written by Eric G. Johnson.

Crew

Camera (FotoKem color, 35mm/Super 16mm/DV), Barry Stone; editor, Sharon Marie Rutter; music, Jim Latham; production designer, Don Day; costume designer, Megan Lynn Earsley; sound, Michael Emery, Bob Gitzen; sound designer, Christopher Forrest; line producer, Caitlin Maynard; assistant director, Brad Marshland; casting, Patrick Baca. Reviewed on videodisc, Los Angeles, May 14, 2005. (In Dances With Films.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Giuseppe Andrews, Elizabeth Bogush, Keith Brunsmann, Eva Fisher, Demetrius Navarro. (English, Spanish dialogue)
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