Behind the Wheel (2008)

Posted: July 7, 2009 in Joe Giambrone
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Behind the Wheel

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This is truly independent filmmaking. No budgets, no scripts, just a road trip across America in the modern age version of a “hippie bus.” The Los Angeles Filmmaker’s Cooperative (LAFCO) takes a stab at trying to find the real America, with numerous interviews, numerous bands and numerous locations and situations.

It all makes for a bit of a rambling journey, with no way to predict what will appear next. It’s loosely tied together with a state by state and step by step graphic motif which takes the bus from California, through the deep south, and back up to New York City.

Various interesting characters speak their minds along the way, including artists, musicians and even legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone.

I found the segment on New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to be the most interesting point in the journey. The residents give an update on the flooded areas, one year after the event.

It doesn’t begin to approach what Spike Lee did in When the Levees Broke (2006), but it’s a nice little slice of modern American history, and is heart felt.

When the Levees Broke, Spike Lee
When the Levees Broke – A Requiem In Four Acts (Documentary)

Behind the Wheel’s style is very rough and unpolished camerawork, something that some may find distracting. The camera is a bit too shaky, and the cutting too quick and jerky. As an early effort, it’s quite enjoyable mostly due to the powerful music soundtrack and varied tastes they incorporated along the way. It’s about the personalities. Hopefully future efforts will focus a little more on the cinematography, and overcoming the limitations of the HD medium (blown out white skies for example).

Glad to see that American radical voices have an outlet and are being heard. Politically, some of the speakers are on the outer fringes, something you don’t see very often. With the democratization of the medium, we will likely be seeing more and more dissent, thus pushing the envelope in both art and politics.

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