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By Don R. Lewis | June 10, 2007

Apparently in 1996 or 1997, there were huge race riots in St. Petersburg, Florida. I say apparently because I had no idea that they had happened. Chris Fuller’s interesting, yet flawed film “Loren Cass” takes place in the time after the riots where people try to make sense of their world by screwing, boozing and brawling.

The three main characters we focus on are Nicole, Cale and Jason. Jason is a punk rocker with tons of tats and piercings and an affinity for 40oz beers. Cale is a quiet mechanic and Nicole is a fairly slutty high schooler who works at a local diner. I love the way Fuller uses sparse dialogue to convey the anger, confusion and violence that he clearly dealt with during the aftermath of the riots. While I didn’t like this film, I felt Fuller was trying to tell a story his way and he’s quite ballsy to do so. I appreciate that. “Loren Cass” is a pastiche of somewhat disjointed scenes peppered with blank screens in which beat poetry type dialogue is barked out by secondary characters and other, more laconic types. At any time a new character might stumble into the film and add a few dramatic touches of their own. There’s also some brutal fight scenes between black and white characters. However, through all of this, I had no context in which to base what was happening.

For me, “Loren Cass” was incredibly frustrating because I know Fuller felt strongly about the story he was telling. His cinematography is rough yet exact. He knows what story he’s trying to tell and chooses new ways to tell it, but by choosing emotional and visual scenes to convey a story without helping the audience understand what’s happening at the core is where the film stumbles. In fact, I still don’t know who or what “Loren Cass” is as it doesn’t appear to be a character in the film. As I said, this film wasn’t for me, but I think Fuller has a unique and interesting style and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

One thing I feel compelled to add is that there was a scene that appears in the film that not only served no purpose that I could see, it was also rather rude to have thrown in. As “Loren Cass” is rolling along, we cut to actual documentary footage of an older man in a courtroom with a gun. As the people in the courtroom scream and a security guard tries to contain the situation, the man sticks the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. Blood goes everywhere and it’s abhorrent. Keep in mind, this isn’t some horror movie trick, this is really a man ending his life and the camera lingers on the blood gushing from his blasted off face. I did not need to see that and I also feel that when it comes to scenes of real death, I should have a choice in seeing that. Fuller adding that scene, with no context at all, really pissed me off. I’m no prude but I also wasn’t warned that there would be an arbitrary scene of actual suicide by gun shot and that is not fair nor is it appreciated. Now you are all warned.

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