Jeff Brammer, Nick Butts, David Mackley
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
The Independent Critic recently received for review a trio of films from Hoosier filmmaker John Taylor. First up on our list is his first feature-length film, a black-and-white dark comedy called Promenade, in which Dale (David Mackley) lives a life alternates between funny, sad and at times downright pathetic.
A prime example of the Hoosier microcinema filmmaker, Taylor shot most of Promenade in Anderson, Indiana on an estimated production budget of $1,000. Capitalizing on the earthiness of black-and-white photography, D.P. Matt Stahley gives the film a look that is strangely serene even during the film's darker moments.
There's no doubt that Promenade suffers from a host of first-time filmmaker issues and the inevitable limits that come with operating under such severe financial restrictions, but the film benefits from Taylor's clarity of vision and several solid performances that transcend the film's humble beginnings.
David Mackley shines as Dale, a man who manages to be both sympathetic and a touch repulsive, a duality that seems to be common in Taylor's films. To his credit, Taylor, who also pens the film, refuses to develop characters who exist on one side of the fence and seems to recognize the dual natures of every character he pens.
Nick Butts also plays a solid note as Pastor Dan, capturing both natures of the character in a way that may be a touch disturbing yet it feels authentic and true to the story. Jeff Brammer and Beverly Parker also have moments to shine in the film, which serves as a solid reminder of the promising, grassroots filmmaking coming out of the Midwest.
Promenade features a dark, cynical edge that would have benefited from tighter pacing and crisper editing. There are scenes in Promenade that linger a bit too long, perhaps waiting for an extra laugh that never quite arrives. Yet, the performers have a clear grasp of their characters and the lines as written are both biting and funny.
Having already seen Taylor's next two films, Brainwrap and Leach, it's clear that Taylor's a growing and promising director with a unique visual style and an off-kilter, distinct sense of dialogue that should prove to be quite popular on the underground and indie film fest circuit. Already building a following on the Indiana film circuit, it'll be interesting to see just where John Taylor goes next.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic