Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Consumption: 2011 Film Edition Vol. II

45365 (d. Bill Ross and Turner Ross)

Have you ever been to Sidney, Ohio? Neither have I. It's 40 miles north of Dayton, and one of the city's most notable natives is Joey Long, who spent less than a month in 1997 pitching for the San Diego Padres, compiling an 8.18 ERA.

This is more information about the city than one would get from watching 45365, but knowledge is not the point of the film. There's no linear storyline. There's simply a series of impressionistic vignettes of Midwest America. Characters reappear in different settings, but there's no overarching theme. As a viewer, you show up in the middle of their lives, and you leave in the middle of their lives. One moment a radio DJ debates the innuendo of The Who's "Squeeze Box" with a listener, and the next an enterprising young man is convincing his older neighbor that he could get top dollar by selling the bat dung inside his barn to marijuana harvesters.

From a tonal perspective, the film draws easy comparisons to "Friday Night Lights" with the reliance on unobtrusive camera placement and natural lighting. Nothing seems contrived, from the demolition derby, to the interaction of police and criminals, to the high school girl arguing on the phone with her delinquent boyfriend. And the Ross brothers buck the current trend of making a grand political statement with the town and its residents. There's no over-the-top glorification of "Real America," and no weeping pity for the economic struggles of small towns.

45365 is a gorgeously shot 90-minute postcard.  Like most postcards, it won't change you're life, but if nothing else it brightens your day, and you feel happy it was sent to you.

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