Judge Patrick Rogers wishes he had an awesome mustache.
"Part satire, part tragedy, part masterpiece theatre gone awry…"
Anywhere, USA is a tale told in three disjointed parts, the first detailing the trials and tribulations of a mustached man trying to win back his girlfriend with the help of a midget friend with a penchant for racism and cocaine. The second shows the loss of innocence within a little girl as she comes to realize that the tooth fairy isn't real. The third and final vignette focuses on upper class, mid-life malaise and the struggle for a thoroughly un-hip and painfully white man to make friends with a black person.
To start right off, Anywhere, USA is a film that thinks way too highly of itself. I always feel a sense of trepidation going into a film where the director goes by a single name; in this instance it's Ashville director "Chusy." There's nothing more pretentious than a filmmaker with a moniker, and it's an air of condescension that seeps its way into a good measure of the film. Right there on the back of the case it states for itself that this will be about "passive racism, geo-political vagaries, good intentions, faith and disappointment."
That's all well and good, but the reality of the matter is that the film doesn't address these matters in any enlightened or substantial way, shape or form. The three parts of the film don't go together in any conceivable way except for tenuous character connections within the narrative and a stylistic motif of absurdity. The aim to unveil the absurdity and the incorrigible nature of American society is too scattershot and unfocused to ever make you stand and take notice. "Chusy" is certainly no Robert Altman (Nashville, Short Cuts).
The whole endeavor comes off as a fever dream of a grating hipster who's had too much Pabst Blue Ribbon, cocaine, and decided to jot down a film idea on a bar room napkin with a Sharpie. However, and what ultimately saves the film from its own pomp is that it's just too much fun and too off-beat to not enjoy the unique vision that "Chusy" has given us.
While it makes no substantial claims about an American lifestyle, identity, or society that hasn't been done far better, Anywhere, USA still brings a sense of uniqueness and madcap delight to the table that can't be denied. The best way to describe "Chusy" and his directing/editing style would be to call him a Southern Fried Roger Avary (Killing Zoe, Rules of Attraction).
The director has populated his film with amateur actors who delight in crafting grotesque representations of all facets of American culture and society. It is ultimately these unforgettable performances, the off-beat classical score and the director's formalist editing techniques that save the film from being just another pretentious and clichéd look into the underbelly of American culture and society. While the film's central aim is stale and DOA, the uniqueness of "Chusy's" vision certainly can't be denied. I can't wait to see what he might do once he knocks his own ego down a peg or two.
This DVD has incredible clarity considering the low budget aspirations of the film. The color palette of the film is very warm and the transfer faithfully reproduces it, especially in the skin tones and set design. It's not going to blow you away, but it's not to be complained about either. The sound, again, works for the disc. This is not a deafening 5.1 surround sound track with helicopters in the background, though the track does really let the warped score of the film shine.
The special features are what you would expect. There is a director's commentary that is slightly dry but certainly not life sucking like so many of them. "Chusy" has some enlightening facts to share, both about the film itself and some random tidbits. There's your standard "Making Of" featurette, a short little snippet of the director talking at the Jacksonville Film Festival and assorted trailers. It's not a robust selection of special features but it gets the job done.
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