"Anywhere USA" reduces every audience that sees it into a delighted, giggling mob - Quentin Tarantino (Really!)
If Tarantino's cinematic opinions matter to you or, for that matter, you embrace and appreciate a certain quirky, experimental approach to cinema, then Chusy's Anywhere USA
may very well be the perfect film for you.
Part satire, part tragedy and part horribly gone awry masterpiece theater, Anywhere USA
features a cast of mostly non-actors, some you can tell and some are rather extraordinary, exploring such things as passive racism, good intentions, faith, disappointment and lots else that bounces back and forth between the vulgar and the humane, the funny and the tragic, the freakish and the surprisingly tender.
is divided into three distinct segments entitled Penance, Loss and Ignorance. The film is unquestionably, and seriously I won't argue about it, during its second segment on loss that features an extraordinary performance from the writer/director's own daughter, Perla Haney-Jardine. The film was well on its way to being one of the year's true indie gems before a final third that feels out of place and unsatisfying.
Winner of a Special Jury Prize for its experimental nature, translate "balls," from the Sundance Film Festival, Anywhere USA
feels like an inspired intertwining of Harmony Korine's Gummo,
Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know
and a little bit of Robert Earl Keen's irreverent Christmas tune Merry Christmas From the Family.
Even though it doesn't always work, it's nearly always impossible to ignore.
The first segment, Penance, involves a man (Mike Ellis), a woman (Mary Griffin) and a vertically challenged dude named Little Ricky (Brian Fox) exploring relationships, geo-political stuff and a bunch of weird shit. Seriously. Mike Ellis, a non-actor and carpenter from the Asheville, North Carolina area where the film was made, does a decent job here but the true find is 3'4" stand-up comic Brian Fox, whose take on his conspiracy spoutin' militant is easily the best character and most entertaining thing about Anywhere USA.
The second segment, Loss, gives us the extraordinary performance by the film's only actual experienced performer. Perla Haney-Jardine, the director's daughter, is extraordinary as the recently orphaned niece of a hippie uncle (Jeremiah Brennan). This segment starts off rather lightly, but quickly moves into touching and emotionally resonant dialogue brought beautifully to life by both Haney-Jardine and newcomer Jeremiah Brennan.
The final segment is meant as satire, but far too much of it falls flat as we get an older, obviously well-to-do white guy (Ralph Brierley) who one day figures out that he doesn't know any Black people and he sets out to remedy the situation. While the set up COULD potentially lead to some biting, insightful humor it simply doesn't. Brierley does a decent job with the material here, indeed, it's the material that lets him down.
Edited down from its original 123 minutes to 107 for the DVD, likely a result from a ton o' feedback that the film played too long, Anywhere USA
is a silly, irreverent, experimental and often fun and freakish flick with a surprising amount of heart at the center of its humor. This DVD packaging has included a wealth of pleasing extras, a bit unusual for an indie project, but this fits for a film that was a hit on the fest circuit and picked up a coveted Sundance prize.
For more information visit Cinevolve Studios
or MVD Visuals
to pick up Anywhere USA
or simply watch for it (or request it!) at your usual rental outlets.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic