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Junk

Sketching a not-too-distant, not-so-good urban future with more emphasis on intellect than f/x --- a la "Alphaville" and "Born in Flames," albeit without their more cogent ambitions --- low-budget "Junk" shows some enterprise from soph feature helmer Roddy Bogawa ("Some Divine Wind"), especially in visually evoking a zero-hope world on minuscule means. But pic is murky and uninvolving, its pretensions not clarified by dialogue that sounds cribbed from a grad-school philosophy-in-lit seminar. Commercial prospects are N/A, but experimental and New Director programmers may want to take a look.

Sketching a not-too-distant, not-so-good urban future with more emphasis on intellect than f/x — a la “Alphaville” and “Born in Flames,” albeit without their more cogent ambitions — low-budget “Junk” shows some enterprise from soph feature helmer Roddy Bogawa (“Some Divine Wind”), especially in visually evoking a zero-hope world on minuscule means. But pic is murky and uninvolving, its pretensions not clarified by dialogue that sounds cribbed from a grad-school philosophy-in-lit seminar. Commercial prospects are N/A, but experimental and New Director programmers may want to take a look.

Commencing with a quote from cult novelist J.G. Ballard, film follows a youthful but downtrodden protag (William Schefferine) without evident employment who lives in a dingy flat watched — as everyone seems to be — by a Big Brotherlike vidcam.

He eventually meets a young woman (Tara Milutis). Post-coitus, she reveals herself to be part of an underground revolutionary group bent on sabotaging the ambiguous, repressive status quo. Involvement ends badly for hero, though Bogawa — who cites Godard, Akerman, Tarkovsky and Herzog as inspirations — leaves characters and plot too opaque to build any tension.

Intertitles (e.g. “The Sad Tropics Within Us”) are as inscrutable as onscreen and voiceover chat (“History is the ordered creation of chaos”). Despite often very long takes and other mannered fillips, pic isn’t quite boring, with good use of industrial wasteland locations, as well as a nice compositional sense. Tech aspects are assured within very modest production value limits; perfs, OK. Soundtrack puts some indie mope-rock by Codeine, Come, Fugazi and others to good use.

Junk

Production: A Piecemeal Films/Fallen Cinema presentation. Produced by Chris Hoover. Directed, written, edited by Roddy Bogawa.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), Ben Speth; production designer, Madeline Leskin; music, Ward Shelley; sound designer, Vin Tese; sound, Encke King. Reviewed at AMC Kabuki, San Francisco, Feb. 21, 2000. (In S.F. Asian-American Film Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: William Schefferine, Tara Milutis, Tommy Bigelow, Lazar Stojanovic, Michael Joo, Gloria Park, Victor Bloom.

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