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Beatnicks, The (DVD Review)

27 Feb, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Prebook 3/2/10; Street 4/6/10
Passion River
$19.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Norman Reedus, Mark Boone Jr., Eric Roberts, Jon Gries.

This film may make you crazy if you’re looking for high action or comedy, but if sleepy indies are your thing, you might find it to be worth your time.

The Beatnicks are a band of sorts. Nick Beat (Norman Reedus) fancies himself a beat poet while his counterpart Nick Nero (Mark Boone Junior) makes noise from a weird electronic box that washed up on the beach. Most of the time, though, they bum around, with Beat chasing tail while Nero wanders in a possibly intoxicated stupor.

Beat meets a mysterious woman with a hot accent while trying to find gigs and soon gets tangled up with her and her Mafioso-esque club-owner husband (Eric Roberts, great at being smug and menacing as usual). Meanwhile, Nero hangs out with a restaurant owner in this sort of New Agey, ritualistic series of trials that are difficult to explain.

The film has a dreamlike quality that’s both frustrating and imaginative. It has value, though, because few films, indie or otherwise, are made like this today — and, actually, neither was this one, since it was made in 2000 and is finally getting a DVD release. It reminded me of early Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise) and Richard Linklater (Slacker) films, which is nice since those inimitable directors now trade in more-commercial (but still great) fare.

It also seems to take place in this alternate version of L.A. that doesn’t really exist, at least anymore, where Sunset Strip-style lounges are the hottest places in town and unbelievable women (and I mean it in the sense that these are female caricatures) throw themselves at vagabond losers. But hey, if offbeat tales of modern bohemia do it for you, The Beatnicks could be just the ticket.

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