Tag Archives: Julian Richings


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DIRECTED BY: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos

FEATURING: Susanne Wuest, , Cara Ricketts, Christian Serritiello, George Tchortov, Adam Brown

PLOT: Maria is selected for a contest that promises to “probe the very essence of your mind-body articulation”—and to present the winner with a brand new SUV.

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHAStanleyville‘s DIY-feel is paralleled within the narrative as candidates partake in a series of increasingly unhinged, but always ramshackle, challenges (two favorites: “Lobe of Ear” and “Diogenes Nose-Peg”). Trapping five bizarre specimens of humanity in a pavilion, McCabe-Lokos lets his unwieldy absurdist-reality-chamber-drama creak and crash as it lurches toward a gracefully symbolic climax.

COMMENTS: Until watching Stanleyville, I had never heard a ravenously pro-capitalistic screed in folk song form. This was among a number of “firsts” for me, as a pentad of archetypes squared off against one-another over the course of two days. This group is gathered together by an out-of-sync master of ceremonies named Homonculus, and “the heat heats up” as irregular time intervals count down, minds get stretched to snapping point, and bodies pile up in the food pantry.

Stanleyville‘s framework is not ground-breaking: apply pressure to some weirdos in a confined space and see what happens. Marat/Sade did it way back in the 1960s. (In fact, Stanleyville‘s setup makes me wonder if this was a stage play; and if not, when can I expect it to be?) The ingredients are fresh, however, particularly the mysteriously European (and Europeanly mysterious) Homonculus, who finds our heroine Maria sitting in a shopping mall massage chair and promises to change her life. She’s recently finished a shift at her dead-end job, left her dead-end home life, and discarded her purse, along with its contents, in a trash can. An earlier encounter at the office, witnessing a majestic, soaring bird unceremoniously thwack into her window, has left her aware that something is missing in life. She eagerly accepts Homonculus’ offer; not for the brand new habañero-orange compact SUV (a prize description mentioned often, with quiet enthusiasm), but because she feels that fate may have finally gotten up off its ass to give her some purpose.

Her contest competitors are a hyper-affable beefcake who’s neck-deep in a protein-powder Ponzi scheme; a jaded nihilist who incongruously lusts after the SUV; a hedge fund fellow sitting atop a mountain of privilege and self-loathing; and an actor/junkie/musician who never found a failure he didn’t have an excuse for. The four ancillary stereotypes lack depth (as is their wont), but they are merely background distraction (ironic, being the loudest characters in the piece), pushing Maria and her pensive wonderment to the fore.

The fourth stage of the contest (after the balloon-blowing, item sequencing, and the “write a national anthem for everybody everywhere through all time” trials) is when Stanleyville slips from ominously silly into philosophical. If I asked you, “Who is Xiphosura?”, you might not guess an entity who transmits crypticisms through a conch shell —but that’s as much as we learn about him. This is the kind of mystery found in Stanleyville; just enough is explained to keep you going, right up through the (off-screen) final event. Like Homonculus, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos may seem like he’s just making it up as he’s going along. He isn’t; he’s deliberately constructed the pathway toward new modes of mind-body articulation.


“The persistent failure, however, to conceive of connective tissue between the elements it engages with (either through some development of narrative or in formal playfulness) ensures that the thematically derivative interests and pedestrian existential angsts of Stanleyville on the whole amount to little more than nothing at all…”–Zachary Goldkind, In Review Online (festival screening)



DIRECTED BY: Craig Goodwill

FEATURING: Rob Ramsay, , Suresh John, Zoie Palmer, Stephanie Pitsiladis, Ken Hall

PLOT: Jon works on an assembly line pulling fetal dolls from out of cabbages, but his dim memories of a loving mother lead him to venture out into the wider world searching for answers to the riddle of his past.

Still from Patch Town (2015)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The promising idea is like something a young would dream up, but the execution is like something an old Tim Burton would deliver.

COMMENTS: Patch Town starts from a finely macabre premise—what if “Cabbage Patch” dolls were really alive, and after their owners outgrew and abandoned them they had their memories wiped and were retired to harvest more of their kind in an industrial hellhole run by totalitarian overseers? Unfortunately, by the end of the movie, this bent premise has been straightened out. When ex-toy Jon ventures out of his dystopia and becomes a fish-out-of-water in modern Manhattan, Patch Town becomes more Elf than Brazil. Sloppy plot points, obvious jokes, soft rock balladry, predictable beats, and sickly-sweet sentimentality undermine every novel idea the script invents. The film’s mixed-bag nature is evident from the earliest frames. Eerie shots of silhouetted storks flying in front of smokestacks show a flair for realizing storybook nightmares, but they also indicate Patch Town‘s mixed-up mythology: what is the role of storks in a world where babies are born from cabbages?

Patch Town is also a musical, which adds to its kitchen-sink credentials, but the movie would have benefited from channeling its musical energies into comedy instead. Lyrics are thrown out at almost random points, with little production behind them: characters mostly just walk and sometimes share their thoughts in song. The comedy fares little better. Cherubic Rob Ramsay is likable and physically perfect for the role, especially with his dollike mop of hair, but his antics busts minimal guts. Although his shtick is mostly limited to a funny accent, Suresh John’s Sly seems intended to be the spotlight comic relief character. Instead, it’s Ken Hall’s sadistically practical henchman who comes off the best (he declines to eat children because “you have to have boundaries”).

Patch Town is so good-spirited that it’s as hard to hate as a chubby-faced doll. The movie’s dystopian opening suggests that it’s going to subvert sentimental kids’ films, but ultimately it sides with the cute. If you read the premise and thought you were in for some bitter fun, you will be disappointed by the sugar rush. Patch Town was extended into a feature from a 26-minute short; the original was probably the perfect length, since the full-length film has about 26 minutes of good ideas.


Patch Town’s frequently lands pretty far to the left of the dial, and anybody unable to get on its weirdo wavelength may grow fatigued by the film’s many flights of fancy.”–Charles Bramesco, The Dissolve (contemporaneous)