prognostication from hal hartley

Hartley was one of my first indie heros. Along with Atom Egoyan, I was fascinated by their auteur stance - seeming to control nearly every aspect of the film. Not only did each of them make films that looked like their previous films, they would often employ many of the same actors in each film.

This isn't a feature - as it clocks in at around 60 minutes. It does seem more like a thought experiment. Martin Donovan returns to the earth as Jesus with his aid portrayed by PJ Harvey (yes, that Polly Jean). Miho Nikaido (Hartley's wife) is a bartender. It's a contemplative morality play as the modern day Jesus returns to earth following the books of the Apocalypse. This film was completed in 1998 and also carries some of the attitudes looking towards the new millenium.

Hartley demonstrates some of his older film tricks, but most notable is the incoporation of digital effects in the (presumably) source material - soft focus and out of focus images that don't look like they were added after, but rather with a built in feature of the camera. Possibly shot with two cameras, this isn't the most elaborate production, and ultimately, that is what is disappointing about this film. It has good actors, a good director, and an interesting plot, but none of it lives up to what the potential artistic sum could have been.

One of the odder moments is PJ Harvey at a record store with a pair of headphones, apparently listening and singing along with "To Sir With Love" while the record clerk plays a more grinding PJ Harvey song in the background. This is topped later in the movie as The Salvation Army Band is in fact Yo La Tengo.

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