Review: ‘All My Friends Are Funeral Singers’

Project clearly works best as a multimedia experience.

Rather than rattling old chains, the spirits in “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” play experimental music in the upstairs bedroom of a psychic adviser’s home. The ghosts came with the building, inherited by Zel (Angela Bettis) from her mystic-minded grandmother, and now they want out. As designed by avant-garde band Califone, this dreamy backdrop was meant to be projected during live sets of their like-named album. Before Sundance, the only place to see “Singers” was special Califone concerts, and though the project offers enough narrative interest to stand alone, it clearly works best as a multimedia experience.

Written and directed by Tim Rutili, “Singers” attaches hypnotic visuals to the band’s otherworldly songs, surrounding Zel with white-clad old souls (the dead “friends” of the film’s title) whose music only she can hear. More accessible than it sounds, the pic is chaptered into short episodes and intercut with talk of superstitions, as Zel negotiates her ambiguous relationship with the ghosts. They help Zel’s paying clients access occult secrets, but haunt her alone time, and as the tension builds, the increasingly inharmonious jam session (featuring countless nonstandard instruments) takes full mind-altering form.

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

Production

A Better Angel Films production in association with IndiePix. Executive producers, Glen Sherman, Zach Robbins. Directed, written by Tim Rutili.

Crew

Camera (color, video/Super 8), Darryl Miller; editor, Kevin Ford; music, Califone (Joe Adamik, Jim Becker, Ben Massarella, Tim Rutili); production designer, Joseph Bristol. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier), Jan. 28, 2010. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Angela Bettis, Molly Wade, Emily Candini, Reid Coker, George McAuliffe, Alan Scalpone.

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