Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 24, 2009

8 Behind the Wheel

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 5:40 pm

About 5 years ago, when I first began kicking around the idea of retiring, a friend suggested that I supplement my social security income by writing for money, especially movie reviews. Since I have written 418 movie reviews on the Internet and have been a fairly long-term member of New York Film Critics Online, a group composed mostly of professional reviewers, I suppose that I could have gotten my foot in the door at one or another print or web based publication.

But after seeing the initial reviews of Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” on Rotten Tomatoes, I was reminded why that idea did not seem that attractive on further reflection.

Village Voice:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a bewildering, noisy, sloppy, cynical piece of work, a movie that sneers at the audience for 147 minutes and expects us to lap it up as entertainment — and be grateful.

MSNBC
A cinematic avalanche in which Michael Bay eschews anything resembling plot or characters and instead screams at the audience’s eyes for two and a half hours.

I think I would rather take a job as a Walmart’s greeter than be assigned to sit through movies like this.

By contrast, I watched a movie titled “8 Behind the Wheel” last night courtesy of the producer, director and screenplay writer Trace Burroughs. I would estimate that the movie cost less to make than an hour’s worth of production costs when “Transformers” was being made. But in terms of quality, there is no comparison. “8 Behind the Wheel” is far scarier than any Hollywood horror movie since the characters are so ordinary (including a pizza delivery girl), but once you get inside their heads, you realize how sick they are. Not that sickness in itself is sufficient to entice you to watch a movie. In the case of this low-budget movie, the appeal is in how Burroughs takes various forms of sexual and homicidal obsessions and turns them into something that at its most inspired approaches Dostoyevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”.

Dispensing with convention, the 8 characters are involved in very little dialog between each other and very little action, which is understandable since they are driving automobiles all by themselves late at night in what appears to be a fairly desolate suburban landscape. As they drive along, they begin to think to themselves about a number of preoccupations in a stream of consciousness manner that becomes more and more disturbing as the film progresses, not the least of which includes the ravings of a serial killer to himself as he seeks his next victim.

Just as is the case in the bigger budget “coincidence” movies like “Babel” or “Crash”, these characters are related to each other in some fashion and are destined to cross paths at the end of the movie. By the time that moment arrives, it is practically anti-climatic since most of the drama has already transpired within their isolated heads.

2 Comments »

  1. Leaving Iran aside for the moment, what Noir reviews have you written and where can I get hold of them?

    Comment by MN Roy — June 24, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  2. My film reviews are archived at:

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture.htm

    Look for:

    Bad Day at Black Rock
    The Big Clock
    Le Cercle Rouge
    Force of Evil
    Odds Against Tomorrow
    Rififi

    I also have an archive at:

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-1390/

    But it is a little bit harder to navigate.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 25, 2009 @ 3:03 pm


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