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    They wanna go to rehab

    "Fix" is the story of three people's dizzying dash through the unseen underculture of Los Angeles to get $5,000 for drug treatment.


    (Originally reviewed at the 2008 Brooklyn Film Festival.)

    I'm about to do one of the worst things critics ever do: Compare something original to something old. That's our crutch for when we're too lazy to figure out new words to describe new things, and it unjustly implies that nobody ever had an idea of their own since, I don't know, Dylan. Miro. Kurosawa. God. Whatever. It doesn't matter.

    Directed by: Tao Ruspoli.
    Written by: Charles Castaldi, Paul Duran, Jeremy Fels, Tao Ruspoli.
    Cast: Shawn Andrews, Olivia Wilde, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Tao Ruspoli, Dedee Pfeiffer.
    Cinematography: Christopher Gallo, Tao Ruspoli.
    Edited by: Paul Forte.
    Music by: Isaac Sprintis.

    Related links: Official site
    Village East
    187 2nd Ave at 12th St.

    Brooklyn International Film Festival, 2008
    • Overview

      • Official site

    • The Collective
    • Coyote
      • Crawford
    • Fix

    The original creation is called "Fix." It's about a day where people do a whole chain of stupid, irresponsible, crazy, cool things like modern-day Kerouacs. Like Hunter S. Thompsons. Like Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles.

    The lead fuck-up and constant center of attention is Leo (Shawn Andrews), who starts the day by getting out of jail and must, by court order, end it by entering drug rehab. That will cost $5,000 that he doesn't have and urgently must get.

    If there's any precedent for Leo, it's David Thewlis's character from "Naked" — fast-talking, a little nuts, a little mean, a little charismatic. He's narcissistic, maddening and full of life. He's a natural leader, which is to say, people follow him because it's impossible to get out ahead of him.

    Coming down to help from relatively sane, responsible San Francisco (did I just write that?) are Leo's brother Milo (director Tao Ruspoli) and his girlfriend Bella (Olivia Wilde of "House M.D."). They have brought a camera, which they planned to use for an Important Documentary about prison conditions but wind up using to record one wild day on the run.

    Being a heroin addict, Leo is a man of schemes. They include borrowing $10 from a thumbcuff-jewelry artist, stealing an espresso machine, and selling an Italian police dog to a motorcycle gang.

    And that doesn't count the Chevy Impala caper.

    "How do you expect to stay out of prison," asks brother Milo during the Chevy Impala caper, "if you're going around stealing Israeli arms dealers' cars and selling them to chop shops?"

    "It's not a chop shop. It's a parts place," Leo clarifies.

    What ensues is a tour of seamy/awesome Los Angeles that you pretty much never see in any other movie. In fact, I happen to be writing this review from the heart of Hollywood at this moment, and I've seen two L.A.'s — the city of celeb-studded parties, and the city of boarded-up buildings and homeless beggars — but not the L.A. in-between, the one on the "Fix" tour.

      What ensues is a tour of seamy/awesome Los Angeles that you pretty much never see in any other movie.
    This is a city where a graffiti artist/Army vet/mercenary paralyzed by Afghan druglords raises chickens in a wooden shack; where a Ukrainian cat-toy maker runs a weed farm in the back of his factory; where a promiscuous painter in panties knows how to scam $2,500 in a day because it's how she got through art school; where vegans in a Vietnamese restaurant go ahead and eat the 100-year-old eggs because you just gotta.

    This is a life more vivid than any I've ever seen in this town.

    It's a movie more vivid than almost any made in this town.

    Dirty, sweet and magical, the movie swirls kaleidoscopically through urban terrain. It has the hallmarks of a music video — fast motion, jump cuts, dizzying angles — but isn't just vainly edgy. It's meant to be a guerrilla film-on-the-fly, latticed like the broken windshield of perception.

    The movie has a sort of mantra — at least twice, characters offer the greeting "Each day's better than the next." Here is a two-faced piece of wisdom indeed. Does it mean life is getting ever-better, like it sounds, or ever-worse, like it says? Is "Fix" a movie about hope or catastrophe, the best of times or the worst of times?

    That's for you to decide after seeing the movie. Catch it at the Brooklyn Film Festival, see it at another festival near you, beg your local arthouse to play it, do what you have to do, but see it — because you just gotta.

    JUNE 3, 2008

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