There are few things more disturbing as stalking…but what happens when the stalker is completely and utterly ignored to the point that his obsession is deflated to bare impotence? This unusual concept is the core of the excellent short “First Movement Form,” which follows the unlikely path-crossing of a celebrated performing artist who is unsuccessfully pursued by a Mozart-obsessed nut.
Director Gary Shore casts himself as the Mozart lover, who is first seen on a snow-swept dock with headphones covering his ears while Mozart’s “Symphony #40” is pumped into his system. Lost in the majesty of the music, his arms fly insanely in motions which are one-third symphonic conducting and two-thirds deranged judo. As luck would have it, he is passed by Sean Curran, the noted dancer/choreographer who is on his way to a rehearsal space. The Mozart lover spouts endlessly and energetically about “Symphony #40” as he follows Curran through the streets, up the stairs of the rehearsal space, and into his studio.
Curran, however, never acknowledges his presence and rehearses to his own inner music, completely oblivious to the babbling Mozart-maniac in his presence. Curran is then followed to a nearby diner, where the Mozart lover sits uninvited at his table to continue his non-stop monologue on Mozart. Curran still does not acknowledge him, sipping coffee and then engaging a young lady in chat while his unwelcome acquaintance looks on in disbelief. The stalking eventually concludes with the Mozart man standing on stage right before Curran and his dance company are ready to begin a performance. As the Mozart lover realizes the curtain is about to rise, he exits the stage and is then expelled from the theater as Curran and his dancers perform their “Abstract Concrete” ballet. Out in the street, the music lover is baffled at his inability to share his obsession with Curran and the theater full of people appreciating his art.
As an off-kilter joke, “First Movement Form” manages to keep its unlikely humorous premise afloat for a happy 20 minutes without running the risk of taking a crash before the end titles. Beyond the wonderfully weird concept, the film is blessed with an extraordinary odd couple pairing of Shore as the over-exuberant Mozart lover (who seems to spout out paragraphs of dialogue without pausing for a breath) and Curran, who only has a few words of dialogue but whose intensely handsome appearance holds the screen whenever he is on. The more Shore talks, the louder Curran’s silence roars back. Together, they are the funniest comedy team of the year.
Special mention needs to be provided to the extraordinary cinematography and editing, both provided by Rhode Island filmmaker Christian de Rezendes, whose documentary “Alzira: A Matriarch Tells Her Story” was among Film Threat’s Top 10 Unseen Films of 2000. Two sequences here stand out: a remarkable 360 degree orbit around a jabbering Shore on the snowy dock (this circular journey recalls Frankenheimer’s “Manchurian Candidate” spin) and a stunning Wellesian-style editing montage, complete with mirror effects, of the graceful Curran rehearsing his ballet. “First Movement Form” was created in digital video and it is uncommon to recall the medium used with such technical skill and daring as it is here.