Popatopolis


Dir: Clay Westervelt
Star: Jim Wynorski, Julie K. Smith, Joe Souza, Julie Strain

Wynorski has been churning out B-movies for thirty years now, including such gems as Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II and Not of this Earth. the last of which he bet Roger Corman he could shoot in under 12 days. Wynorski won that wager, but is now going even further down the road of cheap and quick, trying to shoot an entire feature, The Witches of Breastwick, in three days. What could possibly go wrong? The documentary covers the shooting, but also interviews those who know the director, from Roger Corman and Andy Sidaris through Strain, to his mother, whom has been corraled on occasion into working, at the other end of a phone, on her son's films. The general tone, mostly clearly expressed by Smith, is somewhat-irritated respect, tinged with a sense his current work is compromised by his reluctance to say "No," regardless of the budget or time constraints necessary. Though Smith's complaints about wanting to be treated like a professional actress are largely undercut by the painful sequence where it takes her a dozen or more attempts to deliver one simple line.

Other interviewees do point out that there are no "B-movies" any more, only big-budget and "C-movies", so the B-movie directors of yore needed to evolve. Some [Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi] went up; others, like Wynorski, went down. The aspect which is largely missing is Wynorski's take on this. Why did he decide to take on this and other projects? Even if, as the end-credits state, the film went into profit after its first showing on Cinemax, is there not more artistic satisfaction in "proper" movies - and, trust me, Chopping Mall is a far better flick, even in the clips here, than Breastwick. Otherwise, there's some fascinating glimpses into just how cheap film-making can be, Wynorski even guerilla shooting in a national park, but there's no real insight into the "why". Does he find it satisfying, or is it simply the cinematic equivalent of whoring? Still, in an era when theaters are dominated by $150 million works, it's nice to see the underbelly remains alive and well.

B
[May 2012]


Tits for art's sake
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