"I was born and I will die, and that is all the meaning that I have," says an actor in "Monkey Sandwich," and Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus' directorial debut similarly seems to exist strictly between its opening and closing shots.

“I was born and I will die, and that is all the meaning that I have,” says an actor in “Monkey Sandwich,” and Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus’ directorial debut similarly seems to exist strictly between its opening and closing shots. A semi-experimental tripartite meditation on the acting profession, people’s need for stories and leadership, and a host of other themes besides, this English-language pic might interest some avant-garde fests.

Strong opening half-hour features the most conventional story, involving a fanatical English theater director, Jerry (Jerry Killick), who battles it out with the insecure actors of a German troupe. Segment’s play-within-a-film scenes are often transportive, suggesting that good acting can make auds forget about the inherent artificiality of theater — or cinema. But the second and third parts, which star Killick as two unrelated characters also named Jerry, are not logically or even thematically linked to part one. Closing part, involving a hunting trip with disturbing targets, is especially nonsensical. Lensing, in a combo of Super 16, 35mm and Canon HD, is a shallow-focus feast, especially early on; score thrives on dissonance. Title suggests urban legends in Dutch.

Monkey Sandwich

Belgium

Production

An Ultima Vez, Monodot presentation and production, in association with KVS Brussels, Schauspielhaus Koeln, Savage Film. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Kristien De Coster, Tatiana Piere, Maarten Le Roy. Directed, written by Wim Vandekeybus.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16/35mm/HD), Patrick Otten, Kassim Ahmed; editors, Dieter Diependaele, Octavio Iturbe; music, Elko B.; art director, Yves Verstraete; costume designer, Isabelle Lhoas. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons -- closer), Sept. 10, 2011. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Jerry Killick, Carly Wijs, Davis Freeman, Guy Dermul, Mauro Pawlowski, Wim Vandekeybus, Bruce Geduldig, Janie Gibson, Anja Herden, Anja Lais. (English, German dialogue)
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