Review: ‘Analog Days’

Aimless suburban youth run into more cul-de-sacs than escape routes in writer-director Mike Ott's tyro feature, "Analog Days." Evincing a familiarity with Los Angeles 'burb Newhall from a dreary community college and vid stores to racism, pic is too plainly filmed and staged to generate enough impact to break out of the indie pack. Item looks likely to hang out at North American fests, but curfew will be on after that.

Aimless suburban youth run into more cul-de-sacs than escape routes in writer-director Mike Ott’s tyro feature, “Analog Days.” Evincing a familiarity with Los Angeles ‘burb Newhall from a dreary community college and vid stores to racism, pic is too plainly filmed and staged to generate enough impact to break out of the indie pack. Item looks likely to hang out at North American fests, but curfew will be on after that.

Ott’s ensemble narrative is told through the course of a year, from “February” to “November,” when a local, unctuous right-wing GOP politician (seen campaigning on the tube throughout running time) is elected to Congress. This political background, filled in with some racist comments and behavior, is rarely effectively linked with the foreground story about young adults with only the vaguest idea of what to do with their lives.

The politics and the personal are perhaps best connected via Jordan (Brett L. Tinnes), who has dropped out of CalArts — Ott’s alma mater — and works at a vid outlet when he isn’t vandalizing GOP campaign offices. His half-hearted debate with a young conservative in a community college class nails the inchoate, dissenting attitudes of alienated left wing youth who know their slogans but lack substance.

More subtle is Tammy (Ivy Kahn), whose college class on video art captures the sense of these schools as high-schools-with-ashtrays, and includes a dig against pretentious fledgling “experimental” filmmakers. Tammy dreams of going to a Bay Area art school.

Unfortunately, “Analog Days” tries to juggle more characters than it can handle, with the silent lad Lloyd (Chad Cunningham) especially under-realized. His unrequited love for Molly (Granger Green) leads to a missed rendezvous, but lacks poignancy.

With its fair but hardly memorable cast, indifferent visual style (bordering on the dull and neutral) and sub-par technical aspects (including poor sound), pic appears like a draft for a much richer film that was never developed.

Analog Days

Production

A Jenifer Shahin production. Produced by Shahin. Executive producers, Shahin, Kevin Koechley , Shani Haller. Directed, written by Mike Ott.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Jason Joel Harris, Jay Keitel; editor, Lane Farnham; music, Derek Fudesco; production designer, Cora Foxx; costume designer, Roshini Sharma; sound, Badger Coon; sound designer, John Amadore; assistant director, J. R. Hughto. Reviewed at Wilshire screening room, Beverly Hills, June 6, 2006. (In Los Angeles Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Ivy Kahn, Brett L. Tinnes, Chad Cunningham, Granger Green, Ryan E. Johnsen , Shaughn Buccholz , Jonathon Burbridge , Nathan Rodriguez, Jackie Buscarino.
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