Local Film Review

Paul F. P. Pogue

Actors Oliver Brooks and Leah Winkler, director Zach Dehm, director of photography Chris Porto, and actor Matt Cicci, of 'Luke's Father and the Sled,' at the Butler premiere.

Luke's Father and the Sled

Butler University

Feb. 18

In the world of low-low-budget filmmaking there's not a lot of room for effects or camera tricks or grand location shooting. The currency you trade in is ideas, and Luke's Father and the Sled, directed by Zach Dehm and adapted from a stage play by Dan Barden, has ideas aplenty.

Reminiscent of Clerks and Empire Records, but more thematically ambitious than either, the story centers on a very odd day in the life of a group of eccentric film multiplex employees. You've got a manager obsessed with empty theories and philosophies; a projectionist whose fixation on her craft borders on the mystical; and best of all, an ideological anarchist ticket-taker, who seeks to shatter the boundaries of the narrative form and generally make a pretentious nuisance of himself by giving away the endings to movies. ("Bruce Willis' character is really dead!" he's fond of proclaiming.) I'm all for any film whose lead characters include a wheelchair-bound ontological terrorist and his would-be sex moppet. (They're sort of supposed to be the villains, but I was rooting for them all the way.)

In the midst of all the craziness is a series of surprisingly sharp observations on the nature of life, characterization and narrative form. I know it sounds like a cliché: Media student creates film that sounds like it's drawn from a graduate student debate of postmodernism at best and Tarantino/Smith rip-off at worst. What can I say, I'm a sucker for metafiction. But it's accessible, and more importantly, it's really funny, which makes it all okay. Also: Popcorn gangfight! Don't tell me that doesn't draw you in. It also knows when to stop, clocking in at a comfortably brief 78 minutes, leaving many questions unanswered yet closing on a satisfactory note. Appropriate enough for a film that argues there are no beginnings and endings in life, only middles.

Luke's Father and the Sled will screen at Lake County Film Fest near Chicago March 3-5.

Further local screenings are expected; check out www.runningoncoffee.com/luke for updates.


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