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'Town' an odd, inconstant vision


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POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009

Much of the British criticism against the film “;Somers Town”; uses the term “;slight,”; and it's a good description. Made by U.K. guerrilla filmmaker Shane Meadows, it's a twee teenage bromance between two working-class lads, plus the French waitress they moon after.

Recently deposited from the Midlands factory landscape, a tubby teen, played by Meadows discovery Thomas Turgoose, is mugged and left cashless. He worms his way into a kind of friendship with a lonely Polish lad, played by Piotr Jagiello, and together they get into minor scrapes, mostly of their own device, whilst wooing the waitress, who then suddenly disappears off to Paris. Then this short film—70 minutes—suddenly changes hue, literally morphing from gloriously detailed black and white into crappy 8 mm color, as the two lads and the Gallic lass cavort about Paris, acting out every touristy trope invented about the City of Lights.

               

     

 

'SOMERS TOWN'

        » Opens at the Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
       

» When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Aug. 29, and 4 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30

       

» Cost: $8 general; $7 seniors, students and military; and $5 academy members

       

;*;*

       

 

       

It's decidedly odd. And structured so that it just might be a fantasy sequence. I mean, these two yobbos have just spent 95 percent of the film penniless and wracked by anomie, and suddenly they're trying on berets and munching croissants on the Champs?

Meadows has a rep for “;working-class realism,”; which is generally code for celebrating lazy socialist thuggishness. It's well acted, though, and some moments are quietly brilliant. The black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous, in the way that the lack of color focuses the eye on telling detail. Those with long-enough memories to recall other British working-class meditations like “;The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”; and “;Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker”; and virtually everything directed by Ken Loach or Tony Richardson will feel a rush of deja vu all over again. Deja vu in black and white, mind you.