Wow! What a beautiful and exhausting assault on all of your senses. This film is like a freight train of evil disguised as a dorky little film geek. Did not see this coming! Alright...hold on a sec...lemme catch my breath. Ok...let's discuss.
Honestly, this film snuck onto my radar by way of a friend one day asking me if I've seen it (yes...I totally used the word "snuck"). I never had any intention of watching it until sometime further down the road. However, the kind-hearted Mr. Christensen asked me if I wanted to borrow the screener that he had in his possession. So, I let out an enthusiastic..."Hell, yes!" And here we are. Even after having the film in my possession...I just let it sit there on my shelf...pulling it out every now and again to look at the cover and open it and gaze at the cool hand-drawn discs. Then, I would just pack it up and place it right back on the shelf. I dunno...it seemed kind of dirty. Almost obscene...just for the sake of being obscene. I haven't seen anything that has repulsed me so much since last year's Amerikan Holokaust...and I wasn't sure if I wanted to take a walk down Repulsion Boulevard again so soon. But, the Deviant inside me told me to just shut the fuck up, put the goddamn thing in my Blu-ray player and watch Pieces of Talent. And so I did.
Writer/Actor David Long and Writer/Director Joe Stauffer (who, incidentally also shot and edited the film) have really created one hell of a horrific study on gory obsession with Piece of Talent. Not only is the film impeccably shot - even the dog shit looks gorgeous - but, holy Jesus on a cross is the film so well-paced and realistically written. I mean...I've seen a countless number of indie's done on the cheap that have their fair share of flaws scattered all over...but, the characters are written so well here and the feeling of the dialogue truly gives the film a firm sense of presence that could actually exist somewhere...for really realz. Much credit goes to these young filmmakers for executing (no pun intended) such a fearless film with all kinds malicious intent.
Pieces of Talent takes place somewhere where you do not necessarily wanna live. It's that small town that you might have grown up in...cursing it every day and biding your time until you can one day escape it. This is super important to take into account because of the film's lovely young lead, Charlotte (a great turn by Kristi Ray) and her dream of becoming an actress. She works in a sleazy strip club as a cocktail waitress by night and by day...she's auditioning for role after role. One night...she meets David (played almost too well by David Long). It's a rather harmless meeting at first with Charlotte taking pity in David getting the fuck beat out of him by one of the bouncers at her club. And so, the two take off on an all-night car ride getting to know one another. I dunno. Is this something people do? Go off with a stranger somewhere? Well, Charlotte does...and she gets hooked into David's world once she finds out that he's a filmmaker all his own. Except...well...David doesn't make ordinary films. One could say that his films are a bit more ambitious. Their relationship starts off really sweet...and turns...well, I'll end the synopsis there...because it is best if you go into this one as cold as possible.
The performances are pretty great. While choppy and sometimes downright awful...the cast feeds into the distinct feel of the film. Gritty and beautiful...all at once. In fact, aside from that abrupt ending that promises a sequel (in production as we speak), that is the only flaw that I could find in the film, which is also a backhanded praise. The often uneven performances that push and pull the film throughout its running time. Sometimes terrible...and sometimes truly noteworthy. David Long playing...ummm, David Long, in particular is equal parts charismatic and disturbing in his approach to others in the film. There's a sequence where he meets another filmmaker ready to start filming some movie that David has set up for him (and by "set up" I mean he throws the guy a camera and off they go) and it is one of the most excruciatingly awkward moments put on film this year. It plays out like any other hapless scene...while the dread builds and builds into an unnerving climax. Really beautiful stuff.
There is nudity...but, it's not the pretty kind. The one strip club in the film looks like a place you might come across if you wander down some strange deserted industrial park after you took a wrong exit somewhere in WherethefuckamIville. It's all so dirty...in the most horrifically authentic of ways. Just the feel of the locations alone is enough to send shivers down your spine. You feel like you've been there. You feel like you could be one of these people. You feel like David is a real monster.
Pieces of Talent is among the best American cinematic offerings of 2014. It is as lovely an experience as it is a harrowing one. It will surely calm you...and at the same time, shake you...leaving you wanting more. As I mentioned, talent-ed duo David Long and Joe Stauffer are already hard at work on A Missing Piece, slated for 2015. And if the sequel is as good as this debut...then, we are in for some good independent genre offerings in the years to come from these talented filmmakers. In the meantime...find yourself a copy of Pieces of Talent. David has something beautiful that he wants you to see.
Thanks for reading,