"Something Missie in the Life of Jordan Bank

Premiering at IMAX July 20, 8 and 10 p.m.

$15 in advance, $20 at the door

Something Missie in the Life of Jordan Bank is an expertly crafted series of moments that never add up.

The central concept follows geneticist and dreamer Jordan Bank in his efforts to care for his ailing mother and hold together his slipping sanity, neither of which he’s particularly good at — especially when he decides to start resurrecting old pets. It’s a concept that could carry a movie, but is badly hamstrung by scripting and structure that don’t let the ideas unfold on their own.

Possibly the weakest element of the film is its ill-advised foray into musical territory. The tricky thing about musical interludes is that they need to drive the story forward, preferably in a way that works on more than one level. What we get instead are musical narrations; the story literally stops and we’re treated to someone singing a summation of what just happened. (There’s one part where young Jordan is surrounded by a bunch of youthful tormenters; we then cut into a 1980s-style video where the tormentors sing, “We are from HELL!” over and over again.) This is the inverse of the old dictum about showing rather than telling.

OK, on to the upsides. Director Matthew Zatkoff knows how to frame a shot and use the environment to best advantage; the editing and direction are probably the strongest parts of the film. This is, to be sure, an exercise in great technical and visual acumen — a lush visual love note to the city and countryside around Indianapolis. Sean Goff (as young Jordan) and Kehualani Haydon (as his mother) do some excellent acting, as well.

If it seems like I’m being harsh, that’s because the film sets its sights high, with ambitious ideas and every trick in the indie auteur’s playbook, with all the bizarre lighting, slow-motion shots and psychedelic effects this implies. Individual moments — Jordan on a rocket bike, Jordan applying war paint with his own blood — work on a primal level, but don’t add up to anything more than a collection of moments.

I suspect it would have worked very well as a 30-minute short about a scientist who goes insane, but as it stands, it collapses under the weight of its pretension.

For more information: www.somethingmissie.com.

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