Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Del Zamora, Ed Pansullo, Jaclyn Jonet, Sy Richardson, Leonard Maltin, Roger Corman, Cy Carter
Written by: Alex Cox
Directed by: Alex Cox
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/31/2007
IMDB

Searchers 2.0 (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Ford Country

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Cult director Alex Cox has had terrible trouble getting his movies made and shown since the salad days of Repo Man (1984) and Sid and Nancy (1986), but it looks as if this ultra-low budget road movie is going direct to DVD, which is better than nothing. It's something of a tribute to John Ford, as well as to the spaghetti Westerns that Cox loves so well.

It begins as two actors, Mel Torres (Del Zamora) and Fred Fletcher (Ed Pansullo), discover that they were children together in an old Western; they both remember being physically tormented by the screenwriter Fritz Frobisher. They learn that Frobisher will be making a rare personal appearance at a screening in Monument Valley (Ford's favorite location). So they borrow Mel's daughter's truck -- she, Delilah (Jaclyn Jonet), comes along -- and hit the road. Their goal? To find Frobisher and give him a lashing of their own.

The trip is offbeat to say the least. Fred and Mel both know a ton about old Westerns and action movies, but Fred is a bit on the arrogant side, and it's difficult to generate much sympathy for him. Mel seems to like him well enough, though. They also tend to talk bizarre politics, and at one point, Delilah gets fed up with the both of them and leaves them to walk the rest of the way.

Of course, plot isn't very important in a Cox film; it's more about being existential, going with the flow, embracing the weird and the boring. An inflatable movie screen against the Monument Valley landscape is one startling image, and when Frobisher finally turns up -- played by Sy Richardson of Repo Man -- it makes for an even more bizarre tableau, but mostly we just watch Fred and Mel ponder movies, acting, and life.

If this were Cox's debut, it would be roundly trounced, but now we know more or less what to expect from this oddball filmmaker. Not to mention that the unhurried pace and reflective tone of the screenplay makes it constantly intriguing, and never boring. At times, it's even a little beautiful. Roger Corman produced and appears in a small role, and film critic Leonard Maltin turns up on television, talking about "Frobisher."

Microcinema released the DVD in 2010. It comes with a making-of featurette with lots of on-set footage, a commentary track with Cox, Cox's longtime producer Abbe Wool and soundman Richard Beggs.

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