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      7 Year Zig Zag
    Tire swing

    Filmmaker Richard Green brings a novel all-out musical style to "7 Year Zig Zag," but the gimmick starts to wear on the nerves after a while.


    One of the most arresting and unique things about "7 Year Zig Zag" is that it is, by its own admission, "a film in rhyme and swing." It's a video diary, a musical journey narrated by producer, director and star Richard Green, who fancies himself by turns a musician, a nightclub owner, a cabaret performer, a composer, a beat poet, a lover, a singer-songwriter, an actor, a lyrical Spalding Gray type, a writer, a moviemaker, a struggling producer, and a Hollywood hopeful whose seven-year dream of opening a swing club with movie profits forms the basis of this 83-minute collage.

    Written and directed by: Richard Green.
    Featuring: Richard Green, Carrie Davis, Robin Banks.

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    The movie Green plans to make is an end of the world parable called "The Doomsayer." Like many not-so-bright ideas knocking around Hollywood, the film never gets made, but during the non-production process Green redeploys his energies into forming the Zig Zag band, a jazzy 1930s-style swing band that winds up playing clubs like Hollywood's Roxy.

    Energy is the key word here, since "7 Year Zig Zag" is full of the stuff, from the driven meter of Green's impassioned narration to the big band bluster of the nightclub sequences, in which we witness Green strutting his stuff, whipping his 12-piece ensemble through their frenetic paces. Ultimately the film is a little too structured for its own good since Green throws everything but the kitchen sink at us in order to tell his tale. (Note to the fledgling filmmaker: sometimes less is more.)

    There are hippie flower-power throwback sequences featuring Robin Banks, Green's "Dream Girl" (a lot of this takes place in the free love '60s and the director likes to film his actresses with their tops very much off), trippy Haight-Asbury montages, a black-and-white film-within-a-film that parallels the main film's storyline (here a couple called Nick and Lily attempt to establish their own ZigZag nightspot), moody blue sequences of Green reflecting on a rain-soaked Sausalito beach, and plenty of wall-to-wall, toe-tapping juke joint jazz.

    What sets the film apart, however, also turns out to be its downfall. The rhythmic nature of the narration soon grows tiresome; the words seem too cute and precocious in their deliberate construct; Green himself is too much in our face, whether as a talking head or a performer, perpetually objectified, ever-present, there.

    "7 Year Zig Zag" is an urgent, free flowing visual account of one man's castle in the sky set to music. Unfortunately, the varied visuals and schizophrenic filmmaking techniques are not cohesive enough to stand up on their own once the power of the underlying rhyme begins to flag. And with this "love story about dreams gone wrong, told in rhythm, rhyme, and song," the gimmick gets old mighty fast.

    SEPTEMBER 27, 2003

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