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The Independent Critic

Ephraim Davis, Timothy J. Cox, Elizabeth Alksne, David A. Rodriguez, Jim Snyder
Mike Falconi
15 Mins.


 "That Terrible Jazz" a Modern Attempt at Film Noir 
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The set-up for writer/director Michael Falconi's 15-minute film noir is certainly solid enough. Sam Sellers (Ephraim Davis) is a tough Philly PI (Private Investigator, for the uninitiated) hired by a bar owner (Timothy J. Cox) to track down a missing club musician (Gyasi Howard). Sellers takes the gig, of course, and immediately encounters a host of suspicious characters including the girlfriend (Elizabeth Alksne), the bandmates (John Rifici and Thomas Schmitt), and a former bandmember (David A. Rodriguez). Each person could be a clue just waiting to be discovered...

Filmed in the obligatory noirish black-and-white, That Terrible Jazz is a bold first-time effort from Falconi, a film that unabashedly seeks to evoke memories of those 40's and 50's noir flicks with swaggering PI's, seductive babes, and a melodramatic sense of thrills and paranoia. While it doesn't quite fire on all cylinders, if we're being honest that's pretty hard to do within the confines of a 15-minute short film. It's that brevity that most hurts That Terrible Jazz, a sense that even among characters from whom we're obviously not getting the entire picture this is a film that never quite gives us the entire picture.

The cast is for the most part fine and certainly willing to go along with that noir vision of Falconi's. Davis makes for an intriguing PI and Cox has a suave gruffness that nicely fits within the fabric of the film.

That said, That Terrible Jazz feels like a work-in-progress. There were times I was watching the film and I felt like I was watching a note-for-note rehearsal of a film noir rather than a film noir that was coming to life. Falconi's got the nuts-and-bolts here, but I wanted to see more of his voice and more of the soul of the film.

That Terrible Jazz is a solid first effort from a new filmmaker and it'll be interesting to see where Falconi goes from here.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic