Ed O’Ross sees the light in atmospheric Moving Image Film fest pic Nobody.
Promising the new and innovative, the Moving Image Film Festival delivers a mix of genres, ranging from the modestly impressive neo-noir Nobody to the monumentally insincere documentary The Human Experience.
A low-to-no-budget paranormal mystery set in the 1950s, Nobody (Friday, November 7, 9 pm; Rating: NNN) stars Costas Mandylor (from the Saw franchise) as a shadowy nameless assassin with a painted black face. Did he bungle a contract on another man's life? It's hard to say, since this Lynchian head-scratcher is all about slippery identities, and it's never clear whether our man is hunter or hunted.
Director Shawn Linden makes economical use of a plot that circles back to the same scenes with new insights, and his stylish lighting scheme lends the film an eerie atmosphere. The main disappointment is that none of this has anything to do with racial politics, even though a guy's running around in blackface in a movie called Nobody, which was the name of iconic blackface minstrel Bert Williams's most famous song.
The Human Experience (Sunday, November 9, 6 pm; Rating: NN), a well-intentioned documentary, follows two Brooklyn brothers who travel to Manhattan to live among the homeless, to Peru to help abused and disabled children and to Africa to meet people with AIDS and leprosy.
The film captures some breathtaking scenery, including crashing waves in Peru and a purple African sunset. And a limbless child smiling at the camera even jerks us to tears.
The problem is that the filmmakers and the brothers - global backpackers whose idea of a vacation is to record others' suffering - are less concerned about their subjects' living conditions than pleased with themselves for witnessing them. They find satisfaction in people's capacity for happiness despite their abysmal circumstances, a cheap escape from guilt that feels downright colonial.