Seeing spots but missing plots


on March 22, 2010 by Matthew Nestel

Shutterbug is trying to be a chronicle of a photographer’s slippery grip as he dangles at the edge of the abyss, but despite decent camera work the plot never comes into focus. This one is as myopic as the lead character’s affliction. This NYC-stamped film may claim street cred because it set-up shop along No Man’s Land, Brooklyn, late at night, but its drowsy work and parlor tricks suck the life out of what’s supposed to be a sleepless city. Arthouses might want to add a free shot of absinthe with ticket purchases to entice proverbial hipsters to sit through this one.

Alex Santiago (Nando Castillo) is a winning fashion photographer whose crème brulée status zaps into tapioca after he trains his lens on the blinding sun and ends up seeing ghosts, animated spots and forecasts of a grim future.

The lead character plays the edgy artist card—this character is bored by his success. Alex is really a poser forced to stay in character because he has a camera propped around his neck and a job to go with the prop.

At his modest Manhattan flat he develops disappointing stills in a darkroom and spars with Barbara (Ariel Blue Sky), his fed up, live-in girlfriend. She’s in the way of his masterpiece. He takes pictures of her fuming during a fight. She packs a suitcase. The blonde bolts. Alex prowls for answers. He thinks he’s found something with this hologram beauty wearing a mid-1980s hairdo and mom jeans.

Inspiration arrives when Alex ditches Manhattan and hightails it across the Williamsburg Bridge to tread the humble bricks under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway with unsavories. There’s a glimmer of hope when Alex wards off a mugging by a pack of skateboarding thugs not with pepper spray but with his handy dandy battery pack flash.

Clutching a mystic’s business card, Alex heads deeper into Brooklyn. He manages to get the snot kicked out of him twice: once after aggravating a pimp by snapping two prostitutes in the back of an SUV and another by a gypsy cabbie penalizing him for ditching on a fare. The battered photographer finds himself seated stage left at a modern dance show to watch a misguided Dante’s Inferno catharsis (misguided because the show swung closer to Icarus than Aligheri).

The entire affair comes off as well as a pirated VHS copy of a David Lynch flick without even the decency to Xerox a colored sleeve. The visuals are crisp, for the most part. And the soundtrack is overused but interesting. Writer/director Minos Papas is determined to command gems from his cast despite the fact that virtually nobody can say their lines with any authority. Papas should take the fall here because he’s also the screenwriter and doesn’t give his players much. No hypnotic flashbacks or winding acid trips will result from watching this one. The work simply pawns off of blurry, ginned-up vignettes that don’t warrant a second rendition.

Distributor: Cyprian Films
Cast: Nando Del Castillo, Ariel Blue Sky, Doug Barron, Stanislava Stoyanova and Frank Cadillac
Director/Screenwriter: Minos Papa
Producers: Nando Del Castillo, Rosanna Rizzo and Minos Papas
Genre: Drama
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: March 9 NY

Tags: foreign, Spanish, Nando Del Castillo, Ariel Blue Sky, Doug Barron, Stanislava Stoyanova, Frank Cadillac, Minos Papa, photography, ghosts, premonitions

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