Sex, Love & Z-Parts

A few weeks ago I re­ceived a re­quest to re­view a short film that acts as a teaser for a fea­ture film called Sex, Love & Z-Parts. I re­ceived the screen­er last week, along with com­pre­hen­sive sup­ple­men­tal ma­te­ri­als and have al­so trad­ed a few emails with Marcus D. Russell, the dri­ving force be­hind the pro­duc­tion. So here’s the re­view:

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Sex, Love & Z-Parts im­me­di­ate­ly re­calls Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape, but since I’ve not seen that film, I can’t speak to any oth­er par­al­lels. This is like­ly for the best, since I know of few things that in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ers hate more than be­ing ac­cused of de­riv­a­tive style. The first thing you no­tice about this film is the qual­i­ty of the pro­duc­tion val­ues. The film­mak­ers are on­ly am­a­teur in the sense that no stu­dio is pay­ing them to do the work. It is ob­vi­ous that each as­pect of the pro­duc­tion was cho­sen care­ful­ly, from the film stock to the pac­ing of the ac­tion. This care has en­abled the film­mak­ers to provide a space in which the sto­ry can be told through mul­ti­ple sub­jec­tiv­i­ties.

The style and con­tent is in­formed by a care­ful ren­der­ing and ex­po­si­tion of Generation X traits, enu­mer­at­ed in the the­sis that was part of the sup­ple­men­tary ma­te­ri­als:

The films of Generation X have the fol­low­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics:

1) Conspicuous ab­sence of parental fig­ures…

2) Longing for the icono­graph­ic male bravado com­mon­place in the cin­e­ma that pre­ced­ed it…

3) The ever-present sense of fail­ure…

4) The is­sue of man­hood. How would a man act?…

5) An in­abil­i­ty to mold in­to the American frame­work…

6) The re­la­tion­ship prob­lem…

This man­i­festo was in­formed by Dogme 95, but Big Hit’s ideas fo­cus on more ex­is­ten­tial themes than cin­e­mat­ic re­quire­ments. It is pos­si­ble to see glimpses of this in the short­ened fea­ture I was sent, and while it will take the full film to flesh out and prove whether or not Marcus and his crew have been ac­cu­rate as well as pre­cise in their tar­get­ing, they are cer­tain­ly do­ing more with this film than most oth­er in­de­pen­dents.

From an email:

Scott and I didn’t think we could re­al­ly get out point across with­out ex­treme­ly high pro­duc­tion val­ues. They are so used to grainy dig­i­tal im­ages that they fall in love with the prettiness.…that gives us an edge and a lev­el of trust that is tough to cre­ate in in­die film. We re­al­ly try to em­u­late some of the pop­u­lar looks/​setups of film and TV..and then in­vert the mean­ing.

This is an in­ter­est­ing film be­cause you are re­al­ly not sup­posed to do this kind of shit on the short film cir­cuit. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that you are an amateur…so you can imag­ine that they aren’t ex­act­ly hap­py that two loud mouth guys from LA…are puttin’ it down in the frame. 

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Personally, com­ing from some­one born at the ass-end of the Gen X curve, they seem to have the bag­gage be­hind the la­bel un­der their thumbs. The pro­longed ado­les­cent es­trange­ment from the baby boomer world­view and si­mul­ta­ne­ous im­plant­ed de­sire to live up to it, the strug­gle for agen­cy, au­then­tic­i­ty and loy­al­ty in spite of it all re­sound strong­ly in SLZP. The mis­sion of Gen X, to me, seems to be the process of defin­ing what it means to be an adult in a life that has had a dis­tinct lack of them. Thanks in part to their choice of film stock [“Eastman Kodak 7278 (500 Tungsten bal­ance) for the in­te­ri­ors and the night shoots… Eastman Kodak 7274 (200 Tungsten bal­ance) for the ext/​day stuff”] the film al­most feels like it was shot in the ear­ly 80s, seems to say “this is how we would have done things [in­clud­ing make movies] if we were adults when we were chil­dren. They might not be the best choic­es, but we’ll roll with it and ac­cept the world for what it is.” And if that isn’t Gen X, I don’t know what is.

I shut­tled the screen­er off to Tremont Independent, may­be it’ll show at their December screen­ing.