When Judge William Lee looks long into the toilet, does the toilet also look back at him?
"Yes, there's toilet humor, but there's also toilet sadness, toilet
triumph, toilet a lot of things, because I'm a janitor and this is my
Produced in association with Northwest Film Forum, The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle is one heck of an indie film. Writer-director David Russo's feature debut is a remarkably impressive movie. It's original and exciting from start to finish.
Facts of the Case
Dory (Marshall Allman, True Blood) was once the "datameister," a Seattle tech whiz with a high-paying job, before his explosive meltdown. Now, he's resigned to working as a night janitor in an office tower. Among his new clientele is a market research firm testing a new cookie that simulates "oven freshness." Helping themselves to the discarded sample cookies, Dory and his co-workers get addicted to the delicious test products, unaware that they are in fact guinea pigs testing an experimental concoction. Hallucinations, intestinal distress and wild mood swings soon follow. Even more worrisome, Dory suspects it's connected somehow to the bright blue organism he found in a toilet.
Novice storytellers are often told to write what they know. David Russo heeds this advice but then pushes his story into wholly original territory. Drawing from his years as a janitor, Russo takes a real experience—his discovery of a miscarriage in a ladies' room toilet—and expounds his emotions from that moment into a tale that is thoughtful, strange and often very funny. The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle strikes the right balance in tone between the sometimes coldly surreal elements of its plot and the honest, heartfelt plight of its characters.
Russo and cinematographer Neil Holcomb display exceptional skill with their (I assume) 16mm camera, establishing a visual style that is quick without being frenetic and gritty without looking cheap. Seattle has a certain timeless urban look through their lens. The quiet interiors of the office-building look much more interesting than a typical modern office tower. The combination of dark wood paneling and glass are warmly inviting like a fancy hotel but the lighting seems to hint at some unknown menace around the corner. The camera work is methodical and accomplished as even the shape of a mop head as it drags across the floor is made to look beautiful.
The inclusion of animation and special effects is a nice surprise. That they function so well with the story, realizing the characters' hallucinations, and are blended so perfectly with the visual tone of the movie really speaks to Russo's filmmaking instincts. The movie can be dazzling and trippy but none of those moments feel superfluous.
There is uniformly good work from the cast, with some characters given more to do than others. Marshall Allman is really likeable as the main protagonist, a spiritually confused but good-natured young man. He displays a certain reserve without being timid. Natasha Lyonne (Party Monster) is good as the friendly but not entirely ethical market researcher. The most enjoyable performance comes from Vince Vieluf (Epic Movie) as O.C., the leader of the cleaning crew with artistic aspirations. This is one of those loud, cocksure characters that could be really irritating if done wrong but Vieluf makes him a winner. O.C. is believable and funny as the musician-artist-janitor with a mouth that works a step ahead of his brain.
Russo's script is tight, funny and daring. What we glimpse in the life of night janitors feels authentic. The emotions that the characters experience as a result of the experiment they undergo also feels authentic. Movies seldom address issues of men's spiritual health and their connection with nature and with life. Usually this only exposes a male character to derision. Here, it's handled in a way that is very entertaining without being dismissive. When Dory faces the supposed villain of the story, he does something unexpected. This took me by surprise and I wasn't sure how I felt about this resolution. After thinking on it, I suppose it makes sense for Dory but perhaps it can only be truly understood by someone who has gone through the same experience.
The technical presentation of this DVD is satisfying. The picture is sharp, blacks are inky and the colors are nicely saturated. There is noticeable film grain throughout but that's a physical artifact of its source material and it doesn't detract from the viewing experience at all. The stereo mix is generally good with clear dialogue. The 5.1 surround option isn't necessary but it does provide some separation to the audio elements. For that reason, I preferred the surround option even though it was slightly weaker in comparison to the stereo mix.
Like other releases under the Tribeca Film banner, The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle comes with a couple of short interview segments with the director speaking to an unseen interviewer. He gives us a tidy introduction to the film in "My Tribeca Story" (3:00) and says a little more about the conception and production in a second interview (2:30). The film's editor, Billy McMillin, introduces three deleted scenes running four minutes total.
This is a terrific debut effort by director David Russo and it showcases fine performances by a young cast. It's among the strongest first features I've seen in years so I highly recommend you seek it out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
• Deleted Scenes
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