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JAILBAIT

By Admin | October 25, 2004

Once upon a time, back before we had such a thing as “motion pictures,” the entertainment option of choice was the theater. Indeed, even at the dawn of the Age of Celluloid, the first movies were usually photographed “Proscenium Style,” as if the cameras were simply looking on and filming a stage play from a fixed point in the audience. These movies quickly grew tiresome to a rapidly sophisticated audience, and the fledgling art of the motion picture might have died a quiet death, had not the first cinema pioneers gradually created a brand new “language” of cinema, complete with a variety of shots, dramatic editing, and even a camera move or two every once in a while.

I mention this little should-be-common-knowledge history lesson at the risk of stating the bleepin’ obvious, simply because some indie filmmakers, desperate to make a film, any film, on the ultra-cheap, seem to have forgotten their History of Cinema 101. All to often, they end up with a bunch of talking heads gabbing away in a single white room. All too often, they wind up with a feature film like “Jailbait.”

Pretty boy Randy (Michael Pitt) is a punk with a purdy mouth. Busted twice previously for ticky-tack pot possessions, Randy’s equally innocuous Third Strike — vandalizing a neighbor’s car following a feud — is nevertheless enough of a felon to land him behind bars. For 25 years.

Randy’s cellmate Jake (Stephen Adly Guirgis) is a lifer; a foul-mouthed, manipulative blowhard, (pardon the _expression), who slit his wife’s throat after discovering her in the proverbial throes of passion with another man a mere three weeks after their wedding.

Jake, of course, takes the prison novice under his wing, teaching him the ropes of life behind bars and giving him advice on how to pass the seemingly interminable time. Jake’s tutoring comes with a price, of course, terms that his younger, weaker, longhaired cellmate is in no position to refuse.

Mostly, however, Jake just likes to talk. And talk, and talk, in what essentially amounts to some seriously cruel and unusual punishment…for the audience.

Apologists for director Brett C. Leonard will argue that while 90% of this tedious talk-fest takes place inside Jake and Randy’s cell, this was a conscious choice; that placing the audience for extended periods of time inside the monotonous blue-hued confines somehow helps them identify with the prisoners, and maybe that’s even true. The point is, however, that they’re in PRISON, which is a decidedly unhappy place to start with, and neither one of these unsavory losers is interesting enough to make me want to spend any time with them in their hellhole.

Others will argue that “Jailbait” would make an excellent play, and with this, I would completely agree. Let those folks who wish to attend this hypothetical off-Broadway production bring along their video cameras and tape this endless gum-flapping all they want.

The rest of us will watch a real motion picture.

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  1. Joel Cuerrier says:

    So would you repeat the same nonsense about My Dinner With Andre?

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