Damon Packard's LOST IN "THE THINKING"

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by mcchrist, May 16, 2005.

  1. mcchrist

    mcchrist A new breed of pervert!

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    Keepin' the dogs away...
    I don't like writing reviews. I've said it hundreds of times, I just don't like doing them. People need to explore what the world has to offer or suffer without knowing that they are being catered to as the lowest common demoninator. Hollywood does just that, and so we are offered the same thing year after year, film after film, and as consumers we are expected to take it thankfully. With the advent of DVD and the internet, there should be no reason why an independent or underground film should not have the same kind of audience... But people still don't buy into it, and there's a reason for it... Independent work has a lot to answer for, if not more so, than the studios! The studios put out the same thing over and over again, well so do the independents! Sure, they can get away with more, but they simply don't do it. Instead we are hammered with pretentious post-modern garbage!

    Damon Packard has become my favorite living director. No matter what he puts out, I know that it will be a film like no other. Simply put, his work has all the style and energy that Hollywood hasn't produced since the seventies... And as for independents, it seems Packard has broken the number one taboo, he has produced deep experimental films that are actually entertaining. I've since regretted my review for Reflections of Evil. It was my first review, at that point I had only seen Reflections twice or so, and simply tried to tell everyone how "cool" the movie was. It was a disservice.

    Adrian Mims posted on the cultstitch forum: "After reading Packards rants on his site I guess I should have told him the movie meant more to me than just being funny as hell. It is, but there are stronger feelings the film conjures up. It just made me happy! Seriously, looking back, the day I first watched the film felt like one of the best days of my life. It's indescribable what Damon captured in the film."

    It is exactly that.

    Shortly thereafter, Packard released The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary which pretty much ensured that I would watch every damn film Packard ever made.

    Damon's had problems over the past couple of years. His burner failed, his car got fucked... His website went down for nearly a year! It was becoming harder to believe that Damon could bring us anything new, which seemed tragic to me. Almost a year ago I received an email from Damon saying that he was going to New York. He was hired to film something for a gallery. As he put it, and I'm paraphrasing here from memory "There will be loads of sex with young British elven girls." and "I've only got eleven days to shoot and edit the film, the same amount of time Speilberg had with Duel."

    Then... Nothing.

    A few weeks later, my friend Kevin heard from Damon that his computer crashed. Obviously he didn't make the deadline, I thought... And with him penniless and no computer, the aspect of something from Damon seemed even further than before.

    A month or so ago, I got an email from Damon that his new film, Lost in "The Thinking" was completed. Hell yes, I sent Damon my $10 and a week later...

    What can I say? I must have watched the film twenty times already and kept thinking "How and the hell can I describe this?" That's quite a statement when considering I've seen everything else of his.

    The film begins with an unsettling send-up of Hearts of Darkness. Damon professes, through Coppola, that his film is going to fail. Then footage in an airport, on the way to New York... The camera cuts in to a young woman wearing tight "Juicy pants" putting away her luggage above her seat. A sinister drone plays overtop of this.

    Lost in "The Thinking"...
    The Making of a Failed Project.
    A failed project in itself...

    Title: Day One: Darkness and Misery in New York.

    What begins is a refreshingly unflattering portrait of pretentious, self-absorbed artfags... The type that waste the time of taxpayers with government grants and tenure at universities. Being a film student, these types of so-called pompous intelligentsia have become epidemic. It may not be fair for me to say this as Damon's intention, but considering that latterday deconstructionists declare that authorship is dead... Well, I don't want to go there, let's just say I'm unpacking my own luggage here in regards to this review. But what we do see are a group of arts professors, art therapists (whatever the hell that is) and performance artists doing their thing, and poor Damon thrown into the mix. Grizdale Arts.

    You can't take Damon seriously in many respects, so it is nearly impossible to gauge how much of this is documentary and how much is crockumentary, but Damon appears so lonely and helpless in this environment. The narration is bitter and sorrowful, describing how miserable New York is and how everything is meaningless. Damon walks into a room where a performance artist is dressed in surgical garb, a blank expression declaring over and over again that "Sausage is made of blood." Damon looks concerned and baffled here. And at Day five when Arts Professor John Russel asks Damon where he thinks the film is going, Damon says "Um.. We haven't actually started yet."

    The film then goes into a brainstorming segment where the members of Grizdale Arts are trying to explain to Damon what they want. Their ideas are composed of nothing but bizarre psychobabbly, and Damon's pacing the floor scratching his head. It is a single continuous pan with nervous music, the dialogue drowns out like people speaking in tongues. The camera focuses on the performance artist circling the room wearing a mask when he stops in front of a painting of a crucified hermaphrodite with an engorged penis and clitoris. The session continues, and the sequence cross-cuts between images of she-males. Finally Damon speaks up and offers his suggestion. After the pretentious psychobabble, it is Damon at his dorkiest suggesting that they make a Halloween 3 1/2 Damon at his dorkiest, but also one of the first sane moments of the film...

    We then get Damon's vision of Halloween III. It is a dark street and Damon is running frantically. The Halloween incidental music is playing and he runs across a group of kids and he tells them that a killer is on the loose. One of the girls freaks out and says "Oh my god, that looks just like that guy from Reflections of Evil." A man gets out of a car. He is wearing a suit, tie, and sunglasses in the middle of the night. He walks like an automoton. He looks over each shoulder and then...

    Well, it's more fun to see it yourself. Let's just say that this segment heralds the coming apocalypse, borrowing footage from The Late Great Planet Earth. The world is coming to an end, and compared to the bullshit earlier... It ends, only to return to Damon scratching his head in the Grizdale studio. Caption: "Colors become brighter as group hallucinations set in." Someone says "Posthetic Thinking Device", freeze frame and zoom into a sign on the wall that says "Suck My Dick".

    Take everything above, now tie it together with Zardoz, Geoffrey Unsworth, and Jor-El.

    This is the darkest film Damon has made. As I have stated earlier, it is difficult to gauge when he is being sincere, if at all, but the end result is perhaps Damon's most accomplished film to date. It is structured almost exactly as The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary, yet has more in common with Reflections. I doubt this review will have you rushing to watch it, but I encourage everyone to do so. It is dark, hilariously so... And, perhaps, the best film of 2005. It only falters a little when Damon makes a bit of a political statement at the end, maybe Damon's only one true ass-itching moment. Beyond this, however, it is true lowbrow brilliance.
     
  2. Atmims

    Atmims Guest

    I'm checking this out, ASAP!
     
  3. DefJeff

    DefJeff Franca Stoppi's #1 fan

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    This is a truly enjoyable film and I loved it. The Halloween 3 segment is just.. amazing. He had it so exact, I was laughing out loud the whole time. Definitally recommended, great review MC.
     
  4. Thanks for the heads up on this. Just sent Damon $30 for a few of his DVD's. Loved the original version of REFLECTIONS and can't wait to see more of his stuff now.
     

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