Apparently an expanded cut of writer/director Daniel Nearing’s own CHICAGO HEIGHTS/’09, each claiming Sherwood Anderson’s rural portmanteau classic WINESBURG, OHIO (an entire town living in quiet desperation) as source, though you’d hardly know it without being told. Relocated to a largely black Chicago suburban
community, this refracted adaptation goes forward in short, choppy, disconnected narrative bits shot in artsy high-contrast b&w. And such shots!; each a frame-worthy fraud, over-composed & dead to the touch; it's less a film than a jejune graduation project. Just add in forgivable amateur acting and unforgivable self-indulgent camera angles on every damn set-up. And since the narrative is all but impossible to follow, especially if you know the Anderson novel, there’s little to do but hope Nearing got all this artiste manqué crap out of his system. And that he’s kinder to his actors’ blemished complexions in the future, this one’s pure pore-ography.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Going out on a limb, Nearing’s next, HOGTOWN/’14, sounds better and was very well received. (But so was this!) OR: To see this sort of indie, self-indulgent, b&w grad-thesis pic done right, try Gus Van Sant’s MALA NOCHE/’86.