While Trylon microcinema has steadily built its movie revering reputation on a consistently enticing slate of classic films (ranging from the widely celebrated to the criminally overlooked), the inclusion of Trylon Premiere Tuesdays expands the theater’s programming to include contemporary works from around the globe. Tomorrow’s classics, today? Stop by the Trylon on Tuesdays to find out.
Playing 10.18 & 10.25: The Oregonian
Cinematically capturing a nightmare’s warped distortion of logic is an elusive proposition. After all, how can a narrative be achieved in a transmogrifying world ruled by cryptic associations rather than clearly defined plot points? In contemporary cinema, David Lynch has crafted a career out of such subject matter, respecting the mind’s ability to create subconscious links between disparate elements. Unfortunately many of the filmmakers enamored by Lynch’s unorthodox style lack the director’s innate sensibilities. Such is the flaw with writer/director Calvin Reeder’s first feature, The Oregonian, a film that baffles with commendable abandon but fails to inspire any deeper connection, offering instead little more than an erratic assortment of stray oddities.
At the risk of employing an overly generous definition, the “storyline” involves a young woman, credited only as the Oregonian, who wakes from a car crash on the side of a rural road. As the static filtered strains of Pomp and Circumstance emit from the car radio, the woman discovers two bodies, supposedly killed by her errant vehicle. Setting out on foot for help, the Oregonian wanders the surrounding countryside, encountering an increasingly mystifying (and frequently grotesque) menagerie of characters, including an enigmatic elderly woman in a red shawl, a looming figure in a green felt costume, and a taciturn pickup driver who suffers from a nauseating digestive condition (quite possibly related to his gasoline heavy diet).
Is the Oregonian enduring some form of brain trauma? Or perhaps there are more mystical forces at work? While such questions would make for intriguing diversions, they prove extraneous to Reeder’s vision of inexplicable lunacy. Buying into the world of The Oregonian requires the viewer to suspend all expectations of narrative cohesion which, ironically, leaves very little to care about once the film’s shock value wears off.
Reeder does demonstrate a striking grasp of atmosphere, particularly in the film’s early scenes. Embedded with grainy visuals that recall grindhouse aesthetics, the rustic setting is rendered in mysterious and menacing hues. Matched with jittering camerawork, the film’s ominous tone provokes genuine chills during the initial appearance of the witchy woman in red. Reeder’s approach, however, grows increasingly redundant as the film meanders on, the diminishing impact worsened by an irritating assault of audio discordance.
In the leading role of the Oregonian, Lindsay Pulsipher makes for a compelling presence, struggling through her ordeal with a credible range of confusion, trepidation, and frustration. Still, her performance is squandered on an underwritten role that gives her little more to do than move from place to place, loosening her reigns on sanity with each successive aberration.
Despite memorable imagery and a darkly observed sense of humor, the lack of underlying cohesion will likely deter many from following The Oregonian’s twisted journey to the end. Those that do make it all the way, unfortunately, are bound to conclude that, although The Oregonian vividly depicts a nightmarish scenario, the experience ultimately isn’t worth losing any sleep over.
The Oregonian plays at the Trylon microcinema at 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. on October 18th & 25th . For ticket information, see Take-Up Productions or call 612-424-5468.