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By Stina Chyn | January 9, 2005

The story of Jason Heath’s film “Trite This Way” goes like this: Levi Moore (Josh Riebel) just got out of prison and is re-entering a life that is about to change dramatically. Somebody dies; someone else isn’t completely heterosexual; and an experiment with pseudo-bulimia doesn’t work. There’s the premise, but Heath’s film is more than just a presentation of cause-and-events. Hosted by Felissa Rose of “Sleepaway Camp” (Robert Hiltzik, 1983), “Trite This Way” is like a spoken-word opus accompanied by moving pictures.

Between scenes designed to develop the story, there are monologues where Levi speaks his mind “open mic night” style. From the inflections in his voice, you can tell that his narration is for self-_expression rather than to further the plot. Images depicting his growth from kid to young adult fill the screen as he reflects on the following: 


Yeah, huh, sure.

Myself? ha.

I never thought my life was gonna end up like this

I didn’t think things—

I didn’t think that things were gonna end up like this

A struggle.

A struggle?

A battle that I might not win?

I never thought my life was gonna end up like this

I just wish that I could be my mother’s sweet, innocent, loving child again

I wish that—

Mother, I would do anything to be your kid again

I would fuckin

S**t, I would—

I didn’t think my life was gonna be a struggle

I didn’t think that I wasn’t gonna be able to—

I’d give anything to be my mother’s kid again

I wish that I could just be my mother’s kid again

So, if Mom, if you’d take me back?

You know, I just wanna be your kid

Just one more time

S**t, I would do anything

I would fuckin kick somebody

I’d kick Mr. Fuckin Dude’s a*s

Mr. Dude. 

There is no stage, no one dressed in black, no one is snapping their fingers to signal approval, but there is a performance quality to the way Levi narrates, as if he knows he has an audience. On that note, the film is very self-aware, incorporating actual home-video footage of characters directly addressing the camera and shaky Super 8 sequences of people, cars, and puppies.

“Trite This Way” opens with the director giving thanks to Inspiration, followed by a quote by Nietzsche and another by Ziggy Marley. The latter begs, “stop telling the same story.” Ziggy’s words surely made a deep impression on Heath because he doesn’t tell the same story. Even if his methods have been employed before (blending elements of narrative, non-narrative, experimental, and self-conscious cinema), Heath understands how much he can accomplish by manipulating layers of sound and image. In addition to live performances and published works, spoken-word artists and poets in general can exhibit their work aurally on CDs. But these orators may not realize they can utilize the visual plane as well. Heath, on the other hand, already knows.  

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