‘Bellflower’ Movie Review

“Bellflower” is director Evan Glodell’s stylistic debut of tragedy with a pyrotechnic twist. Classic cars jacked up with customized booze dispensers, homemade flamethrowers, saturated visuals, and an explosively operatic narrative. It will be playing in Denver starting Sept. 2, 2011 at the Landmark Mayan Theatre.

I caught the bug for this raw force of fresh, ingenious filmmaking at SXSW 2011 in Austin. It’s become the movie I often refer to this year when the conversation veers into the ‘everything in cinema is dead’ territory. “Bellflower” writer, director and star, Glodell also offered optimism in the future of Indie film in an issue of Moviemaker Magazine: “The good guys will win in the end. I think people are getting sick of big, pointless movies.”

“Bellflower” is quite the opposite of a big, pointless movie, produced on budget of less than $50,000. It’s also got plenty of pointed commentary, albeit subtle, on love, relationships, manhood, friendship, violence and the imagined paranoia of loss. This is why it’s comparable to an “operatic narrative,” where the characters are boldly colored in primal human emotions. The storyline seems simple enough, but it’s loaded with enough gunpowder to last in the firing range of interpretation.

Even if overzealous film interpretation is not your thing, “Bellflower” delivers on a gut level of the primal centers of the brain. That “Bellflower” serves a raw dish of cinema; it’s gathered comparisons to “Fight Club.” Especially in that it deals with manhood laid out on the operating table, ready for a defibrillator jolt to the heart and the testosterone chambers downstairs.

The film just looks gratuitously gorgeous too. In a recent issue of American Cinematography, the magazine reveled in the filmmakers’ handy work building their own cameras. Armed with saws, grinders, and a Dremel, Glodell and cinematographer Joel Hodge dug through scrap camera parts and lenses from a hodgepodge of applications.

With doorknobs and wrenches positioned to pull focus, the unorthodox, customized experiment pours off the screen like sweet maple syrup on piles of rusty metallic pancakes. The cameras, the Coatwolf Model I and Coatwolf Model II, give the film a hyper saturated, soft and according to Glodell, “emotional” look. Hodge shot with the Coatwolf cameras linked to a MacBook strapped to his back, which conjures up an image of “Ghostbusters” meets Eadweard Muybridge.

The film has a scratchy, dirt sprinkled look, where the cameras literally attracted dirt into the Coatwolf apparatus. They cleaned up the film before submitting it to the Sundance Film Festival, but actually went back to post-production to recapture its stylistic, dreamlike grittiness.

The defining totem of “Bellflower” is The Mother Medusa, a suped-up muscle car with flame throwing exhaust pipes. There is also the homemade flamethrower they built for the film. Everything a strapping young lad, hell-bent on whiskey, needs to fulfill a personal apocalypse. Don’t expect to be handed a paint-by-numbers plot here, or to be hammered by morality nails to the head. It may seem like an anti-drinking message waiting to slap you in the face, but the only thing “Bellflower” is drunk on is cinema itself.

Originally Published on www.milehighcinema.com

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