Stuck in the shadows


on January 23, 2011 by Matthew Nestel

Zenith is a genre-bending experiment that needs an extended beta phase before going operational. The disturbed central characters try to set the powers that be in their cross hairs and decode the secrets that confounded the Ancients. This hodgepodge of sci-fi, make-believe and toothless uprising, directed by Anonymous (or credited Director of Photography Vladan Nikolic), tries too hard to please and will fail to draw many theater goers or even incite the conspiracy crowds for whom 9/11 is an inside job, UFOs are everywhere and Big Brother takes note when you misfile your soda can in the trash.

Our lead, "Dumb" Jack (Peter Scanavino), is an epileptic who daydreams about dystopia. Jack's perceived year is 2044, the rest are in the present. He's even fitted with a straight jacket. Jack wiles away his days concocting a futuristic alternate reality in which he's already dead, shot by a semi-automatic rifle. Feeling little to lose, he punctuates his moves with polished one-liners. Mere mortals get their clocks cleaned and need time to recuperate, but when Jack gets pummeled he manages to get up and sell expired prescription pills to demented addicts and go endless champion rounds shagging a glorified prostitute. His predecessor, who left him a trail of VHS cassette tapes, is Ed A. Crowley, (Jason Robards III) a defrocked Catholic priest who lost his faith and pledged his life to uncovering the mistruths.

The composition in each frame of the film is textured with scrambling interference, meant to resemble a signal beamed in by underground coverts and compromised by the superpower conglomerates. We have somehow intercepted this transmission; the act of watching the film carries with it a sense of revolution. The post-Apocalyptic atmosphere is one lost words, missing books and ever-fading histories. It's a civilization addicted to black market uppers and downers and horse tranquilizers with irreversible side effects. Jack sells the best stuff on the market. An antihero searching for good and trying to remember the words that matter, Jack won't let go of his pursuit to end the oppression of the mind and soul.

Between his dope dealings Jack falls for Lisa a.k.a. Solace (Ana Asensio) and a gyration in the club leads to hard coitus. And while scouring the town to find a biblical book called Zenith, Jack gets shellacked more times than one can count. His mute buddy Nimble (get it? Jack Be Nimble...) saves his life and is loyal to him like a puppy. Closing in on some secret that Crowley left behind while videotaping, Jack gains a higher level of consciousness. Ergo, enough shit-kickings, sex and a few books under the belt maybe the route to epiphany.

All this is a hard pill to swallow, and delivered with an aesthetic combination that mixes a poor man's David Fincher and John Carpenter it's not much easier to take. What's more, the filmmaking is not good enough to hit the notes it attempts to reach. It's a toddler scribbling on the fresh-painted wall and claiming to be the next Picasso. Nice try.

Distributor: Cinema Prugatorio
Cast: Jason Robards, Peter Scnavino, Ana Asensio, David Thornton, Raynor Scheine and Jay O. Sanders
Director: Anonymous
Experiment Supervisor & Producer: Vladan Nikolic
Genre: Retro-Futuristic Steampunk Thriller
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 120 min
Release date: January 19 NY


Tags: Jason Robards, Peter Scnavino, Ana Asensio, David Thornton, Raynor Scheine, Jay O. Sanders, Vladan Nikolic

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