The 8th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival kicked off its festival with the world premiere of Chicago’s own home grown filmmaker James Fotopoulos’ “Back Against The Wall.” From where I was sitting it was the biggest mistake the festival made. Being from Chicago, he had more write ups and printed interviews than any of the other filmmakers there, but I don’t know if any of the publicity out there could save this film.
The film focuses June (Mulcahy), a young woman who starts out in the film earning her keep as a lingerie model. Her live-in, Vince (Wexler), finds her job improper and becomes enraged when he discovers that his good friend Ed (Frantz) frequents the club. In his rage, he has a complete nervous breakdown and goes out beating the living piss out of men at the club and is thrown into prison (or at least that’s what we are supposed to think since we don’t see any of it).
The next time we see the young lingerie model, she’s a porn actress dressed up in a cowgirl outfit with vibrators in her gun holsters. It still sounds interesting doesn’t it….keep reading. After discovering that the porno business just isn’t for her, she decides to go back to the world she knew only to find Ed in Vince’s place. By this time Ed is now uglier than ever, he is into drugs and w****s, and is armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
Now I will give it to Fotopoulos that he has a great idea on his hands (I’m always into cowgirls and vibrators) but the film is delivered in a very poor style. The dialogue drags, transitions between the scenes, and in some cases even the scenes, make no sense.
The saving grace in the film, for me, is Ed telling Charlie over a ping pong game that everyone at his job makes fun of him because he has “woman hands”. It was a well executed scene, but even that scene dragged. Now maybe it’s that I’m not educated on what art is these days, and I’m not down with what’s culture or what’s in, but if this is the new wave art films, I’m getting into Nascar. I can’t say for sure that CUFF suffered from this film, but if I was a local planning on attending the full run of the festival, and Back Against the Wall was the first film I saw, I’d be home watching Splash.
Deep down in this film has the potential for as an incredible short, but sadly this film is 90 minutes too long.