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On the Bus

Further proof that "reality" can't be hired from Central Casting, docu "On the Bus" was originally commissioned as an Internet serial by the now-defunct Digital Entertainment Network. Helmer Dustin Lance Black's decent assemblage notwithstanding, this nonfiction roadtrip pic is doomed by its essential contrivance.

Further proof that “reality” can’t be hired from Central Casting, docu “On the Bus” was originally commissioned as an Internet serial by the now-defunct Digital Entertainment Network. Stuck with the footage, helmer Dustin Lance Black retooled it as an indie feature. His decent assemblage notwithstanding, this nonfiction roadtrip pic –which throws six young gay Los Angeleans on a customized bus to the Burning Man Festival — is doomed by its essential contrivance. Cable and rental prospects are modest.

Cast for presumed sex appeal, Jason is a 19-year-old Wisconsonite-turned-porn actor; equally well-toned Charles reps actor-waiter-ex-stripper demographic; obnoxiously vain Jimmy is a Swedish national. There’s precious little personality beneath the surface, a problem since we’re supposed to watch protags bond and grow. This becomes yet more egregious once they land at annual anarcho art/free expression enclave Burning Man in the Nevada desert. While duly indulging in drugs and sex, depth-free subjects seem wholly incapable of grasping event’s ritualistic, philosophic and countercultural dimensions. While he can’t mask project’s core triviality, Black does package it resourcefully, with split-screen effects and lively editing, making pic — like its subjects — pictorially painless if empty-headed.

On the Bus

Docu

Production: A Sock Puppet Enterprises production. Produced by William Kaufman. Directed by Dustin Lance Black.

Crew: Camera (color, HD video), Black; editor, William Kaufman; music, Christopher Hoag, Darian Zahidi; sound, David Miraglia. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, June 12, 2001. (In San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Festival.) Running time: 101 MIN.

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