"7 Year Zig Zag" is a film that is told in "rhythm, rhyme and swing". My first thought was to wonder why this was made into a film and wasn't in a theater. I still thought about how well it work on stage after the credits rolled, but I'd enjoyed the movie and thought this approach worked well. The film stars writer/director/composer Richard Green ("Mulholland Drive", voice work on video games) as the narrator, who's trying to get two movies made and find his dream girl (Robin Banks) at the same time.
The film is apparently somewhat of an autobiographical feature for Green, who ventured to Hollywood in the late 60's to try his hand in the film business, but ended up falling for swing music. The writer/director/actor's success with the genre of music has carried through the years, as Green has become a highly regarded musician - his snappy, jazzy swing score serves as the background for the movie, and there are a couple of instances where we see a performance by Green and his band. I liked the score, and I'm not even a fan of swing.
Green is also a talented storyteller. This tale of love, dreams and the occasional bump in the road is generally well-handled by Green's clever rhymes. A stretch here and there does get a little jumpy and tough to follow, but, for the most part, the rhymes and story flow surprisingly well. Technically, the feature is a little inconsistent; some scenes are filmed in a home video-ish manner, while others are more crisp and professional. Some special effects, including ones where characters are seemingly inserted into a black and white cartoon, are inspired and well-handled. While this ambitious idea does make for an interesting and enjoyable film experience, part of me still wonders if it wouldn't be even better in a club, with Green and his band on stage, and a projector showing various images on a screen behind them.
There's also an interesting story behind the release of the film, which can be found below:
(taken from the Had to be Made films website at hadtobemade.com)
The idea of creating a unique and nationwide film festival was originally inspired by the search for the best method to release two films: David Lynch presents a Next Step Studios production, I Don't Know Jack... the unsolved life of Jack Nance, star of Eraserhead and 7 Year ZigZag... a love story about dreams gone wrong, told in rhythm, rhyme and song. Next Step Studios produced both films independently, and though well reviewed in the press, award winning, and enthusiastically received by producer's representatives and distributors; the films had difficulty finding theatrical release in a marketplace dominated by million dollar blockbuster campaigns and large-chain revenue sharing deals. The direct-to-video deals offered were backed by such limited marketing dollars that Next Step doubted they would reach their target audience, much less recoup production costs. There had to be a better way.
We came up with the Had To Be Made Film Festival to allow the filmmakers to have their work evaluated by industry professionals, independent video retailers and the film-going public. If their films are selected for the festival, they will not only have their work seen, but unlike other festivals, they will share in the revenues generated by sales and prove their marketability for other distribution channels including cable, foreign, theatrical and large-chain store retailers.
The audience gets the opportunity to not only "discover" films that they would otherwise have no access to, but also to be involved in both the selection and the awards process where their online reviews and votes will make a difference.
The films, the independent video retailers, the audience, the festival - a connection that had to be made.
VIDEO: "7 Year Zig Zag" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, which appears to be the film's original aspect ratio. Shot on digital video, the picture has a generally pleasant quality. Sharpness and detail are usually a bit above-average, although the slightly grainy feel at times does take away from the clarity a bit on a couple of occasions.
Aside from the somewhat grainy appearance on a few occasions, there really weren't many other concerns. Some stock footage showed some understandable wear and faults, but the feature itself looked clear and without any major compression artifacts. Colors remained bright and vivid, with only a little bit of smearing.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack is basic, but enjoyable; music, dialogue and narration remained crisp and clear throughout.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, bios, audio book excerpt, promo featurette (where Green is still rhyming away) and trailers.
Final Thoughts: Fun, unique and entertaining, "7 Year Zig Zag" occasionally ziged when it should have zaged, but it's otherwise a successful feature from Green. The DVD offers fairly good audio/video quality, and a few supplements. Available from clubzigzag.com.