Judge David Johnson recently escaped from a mental hospital. That was one wild weekend!
In a world gone mad, who's to say who's crazy?
Ibid is definitely crazy. So crazy that it flirts mightily with not making one iota of sense.
The film tells the story of two mental ward escapees, Lionel (Christian Campbell) and Tin (writer/director Russell Friedenberg), convinced they're on a mission from God to write the "New Commandments," supplements to the Ten Commandments. Lionel takes a video camera along to document the experience, attempting to craft the next great American film. Along the way, they meet up with some eccentric characters, including a fellow escapee, Lionel's ill-tempered family, and a flighty female traveler.
This review's going to be a bear to write because I simply did not take any pleasure in watching Ibid. Russell Friedenberg obviously has some lofty ideas he wants to transmit through his film, most of which revolve around the concepts of madness, humanism, and progressive thought (full disclosure: that's what he said in the accompanying interview). Well, if he was angling to put together a post-modern fable told in a haphazard, disjointed manner to make his points, he succeeded—though I certainly didn't have a ton of fun navigating through the density.
What I liked most about the film was also my biggest complaint. It had energy to spare; a great, big nuclear reactor's worth of filmmaking energy that propelled our two protagonists along their twisted journey. Friedenberg's directorial style is infectious and—powered by the bizarre but engaging score—makes for a delirious pace that was almost enough to carry me through the craziness. But, in the end, it wasn't enough. The writing failed to overwhelm the fractured storytelling. Ibid is a difficult film, and the pay-off for fighting through its 90 minutes wasn't enough.
The DVD's fine, though hurt by a deficiency on the technical side. Video comes from a 1.33:1 fake widescreen transfer, which—considering we're so far advanced in the digital age—by now should be outlawed. The picture quality is decent, preserving the look of a gonzo '70s road movie. The 2.0 stereo sound takes care of business just fine. Extras: Interviews with Russell Friedenberg and Christian Campbell; deleted scenes; and a brief making-of featurette.
Guilty. I'm anxiously awaiting the first email telling me how stupid I am for
not liking it. Duly noted.
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