×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Down Time

Loosely drawn from director-scenarist Sean Wilson's own stint in the slammer, "Down Time" is an interesting effort that wavers between slice-of-prison-life anecdote and underdeveloped plotting. Erratic narrative suggest production woes that pic couldn't fully cover in the editing room. Still, it's worth a look by indie-focused fests.

With:
With: William Van Nolan, Peter Quartaroli, Sam McBride, Joy Garner, James Cotton, David Fine, David Burkson, David Cordoni, Mario Montes, David Rocha, Kelwin Hagen, Christian Canterbury.

Loosely drawn from debuting director-scenarist Sean Wilson’s own stint in the slammer, B&W indie drama “Down Time” is an interesting, albeit uneven, effort that wavers between slice-of-prison-life anecdote and underdeveloped, more conventional suspense plotting. Erratic narrative and polish suggest production woes that long-aborning pic (primary footage was shot five years ago) couldn’t fully cover in the editing room. Still, it’s worth a look by indie-focused fests; commercially, best chances lie in homevid.

An inept partner and a police sting land heroin addict/dealer Slim (William Van Nolan) first in county jail, then — having negotiated a not-so-great sentencing “deal” — in a Southern state pen. Awkward structure spends too much time getting to the latter destination, where Slim whiles away some years in the company of fellow abstainers from the population’s rigid, race-divided power struggles. These scenes are often loose and funny, with David Burkson and David Fine particularly entertaining as two of the prison’s more harmless “characters.”

Meanwhile, some stolen heroin sets in motion a chain of payback violence presided over by Sammytown (Sam McBride), the white inmates’ heavily tattooed ringleader. This grimmer, more action-oriented thread, which dominates pic’s penultimate stretch, suffers from a hasty buildup. It also has little to do with Slim, whose rather superfluous direct-to-camera musings throughout are at last revealed as coming after his prison release — and subsequent unpleasant reunion with both that onetime partner (Peter Quartaroli) and a treacherous ex-girlfriend (Joy Garner). Latter relationships are too rotely sketched for this poorly staged confrontation to carry much impact, let alone credibility.

Indeed, feature’s mercury keeps rising and plunging re resourceful no-budget atmospherics vs. staginess, improv-sounding vs. stilted dialogue, pro vs. weak or amateur perfs. (Production uses some ex-cons as extras and thesps, as well as various real prison locations, especially San Francisco’s pen-turned-museum Alcatraz.) Biggest problems, however, rest in spotty character and story development, suggesting funds ran out before all intended scenes could be shot.

Given that, plus some inconsistent tech qualities, “Down Time” still has enough quirky and intriguing aspects to hold attention. Though shot on 16mm, print screened at S.F. Indie fest was digital vid.

Down Time

Production: A Joint Prods. presentation in association with Riptide Studios and Visionsmith Entertainment. Produced, directed by Sean Wilson. Screenplay, Wilson, Larry Loy, Pete Smith.

Crew: Camera (B&W, 16mm), Greg Burnstein; music, James Anthony Cotton; sound editor, Albert Benichou; sound designer, Pepe Morales; casting, Beau Bonneau Casting; associate producers, Pete Smith, Tom Gander. Reviewed at San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Jan. 14, 2001. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: William Van Nolan, Peter Quartaroli, Sam McBride, Joy Garner, James Cotton, David Fine, David Burkson, David Cordoni, Mario Montes, David Rocha, Kelwin Hagen, Christian Canterbury.

More Film

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. The major guild [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content