Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Desert (2024) Tribeca 2024

A great image but reminds one a bit to much of a certain DeNiro Scorsese film

A photographer exploring the abandoned locations of the  American South West has an encounter with two drifters at a motel that changes the course of several lives

 While the film has some great moments, lots of great images and an unexpected jazz score, A DESERT never pulls it all together. The reason comes from two main places.

The first problem is that the film takes about 45 minutes to really get going. Yes, I was checking my watch, and yes I was seriously considering bailing on the film because not a heck of a lot was happening. Well, stuff was happening but nothing much exciting and nothing we hadn't seen before. I understand that it was lulling us into  submission, but largely what happens in that opening section follows the paths laid out previously.  Until the moment that the film opens up, as it were, the film is just treading water.

The second part of the film has moments but I'm not certain it adds up to much. Trying to be different than the first half, the film changes focus and becomes more trippy. There is much to love in the pieces and the sequences. The problem is it's pieces and sequences and it doesn't hang together because the technical prowess of the director in creating the sequences over powers and out shines the script. The film seems to be off kilter because the writer half of director Joshua Erkman didn't know fully to tell the story. This isn't to say that what is here is bad, it just isn't narratively compelling. Form has overwhelmesd content and it makes for story we could write if things weren't intentionally obtuse.

At the same time I will happily go on record as saying that I want to see what writer director Joshua Erkman does next because the form that over powers the script is, very often on a level that is shockingly good. The violence is visceral without being overly graphic, the way sequences play out is masterful and unique. If Erkman gets the right script and is allowed to do what he does here he will be hailed as the next great director. 

If you can forgive the problems and can go with a film that works in pieces more than as a whole, and want to see a calling card of a master director, give A DESERT a try.

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