|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
The creative process is a tough one to pin down but that hasn't stopped countless storytellers from trying to capture its essence for their own projects. Clean, a half-hour video by Chris Cullen and Matt Pevic, tells the story of two writers with intertwining lives. Cullen plays Chaz, a publisher whose cool demeanor hides a tormented soul. Pevic plays Blake, a writer-wannabe whose pursuit of a meeting with Chaz borders on stalking.
The film gradually reveals the details of what draws the men together in a deliberately paced way. Nothing much happens in the end; The filmmakers have a few notions of where personal creative expression should come from (there are some good observations on the crutches that people use to write) but the film itself doesn't seem to come from the kind of deep down dark place that the characters talk about. It's hard to imagine why the filmmakers felt the need to make this particular story.
The story (which spends a good deal of time discussing how writers write and where their inspiration comes from) plays a tricky game. Showing writers writing without showing what they're writing is a tough thing to pull off. The audience will ask, why are we spending time with these characters? They both seem to be writing about their lives and where their lives meet up is where the eventual drama in Clean comes in. Along the way the film dips its toe into several deep emotional pools, including guilt, jealousy and the kind of self-blame that leads one of the characters to mutilate his body. Still, the characters don't quite get these feelings across. Credit goes to Pevic and Cullen for trying something a little different (no toilet humor or Tarantino dialog here) but it's going to be a little longer before they have the life experiences to tell this kind of damaged-goods story.
The non-anamorphic widescreen digital video looks fine, if a bit bland. It mostly looks sharp but the video lacks texture or nuance. It may be economical and convenient to shoot on digital video but the results suffer for it.
The audio is typical low-budget location sound. Some dialog is muffled and hard to understand while most of it is acceptable. Music by Jill Cohn sounds good.
A short film called Blue by Cullen and Pevic is included. This piece is less narrative and more experimental in nature than Clean and it includes some of the same fascination with self-mutilation. (Therapy, guys. It's an option.) Also included are a trailer for the duo's next project Good Brother (an ambitious looking period piece) and a gallery of photos from Clean.
Clean may be best suited for digital video festivals. Although it's a bit long for short film showcases, the scope of the characters and the style of the production make it a fine calling card for the filmmakers. The piece itself doesn't really hold up on its own. Fans of independent film, however, and particularly aspiring filmmakers might find themselves curious. Having sold copies of short films of my own over the internet once upon a time I know that there's some hunger for home-made product. Those willing to take a chance on Clean might be pleasantly surprised.