Screen Reviews

The Tropics of Love

directed by Pall Jenkins & Matthew Hoyt

starring The Black Heart Procession

Touch and Go

Being Bo Jackson in the early ’90s must have been extraordinarily hard. I’m sure we’re all familiar: Bo knew a couple things. Bo knew baseball; Bo knew football, but I’d be willing to guess that what Bo didn’t know could fill a missile silo (quantum physics, macraméé, career longevity, etc.) At any rate I’d like to imagine that Bo, through his crippling bouts of has-been depression, now knows The Black Heart Procession. If this is the case, Bo needs to shake off the melancholy long enough to let these boys in on the secret of his fleeting success: know your limits. As musicians, Black Heart are nearly untouchable, but, holy hell, they need to stay away from film.

The Tropics of Love is BHP trying to be indie rock’s Bo Jackson. It is the visual companion piece to the band’s latest album, Amore del Tropico. Indeed the disc was a “filmic” murder mystery concept album lending itself to wandering, abstract thoughts, like snippets of a David Lynch film. It’s not surprising that this is the direction the band takes the film in, nor is it surprising they come up with middling results. Many of the scenes are drawn out and plodding because the visual can’t advance the story before the song lyrics. What we’re left with is a LOT of vile slow motion shots and rehashed, inconsequential sequences that only need a couple of shots *cough* the prison cot scene *cough* but drag on foreeeevvvvveerrrrr.

Non-existent production is one of the unavoidable horrors of low-budget filmmaking and it’s very evident in the questionable locations, period anachronisms (gangbangers and muscle cars in the 1940s? Anyone?) and an over-reliance on B-movie effects (fog machines, double exposure, one GIANT light source, etc.)

There are two redeeming pluses, though; the band looks like they’re having a blast. Three band members play various roles throughout, while singer Pall Jenkins, naturally, acts as the narrator. I appreciate that the band is willing and able to show a side beyond the dark one that comes across so heavily on their albums. Second, the film is blissfully “silent” aside from the Tropico tracks. Thankfully, this eliminates what surely would’ve been wince-worthy dialogue and poor acting abilities.

Despite being very marginal at best The Tropics of Love should be one-time required viewing for any hardcore BHP fan. Let’s just hope they’ve gotten the film auteur out of their system so they can get back to focusing on the music. Hm. Forget Bo. Y’know, the more I think about it they’re more like Michael Jordan when he quit basketball to crap up baseball and…

A sports analogy?!


Get down on your knees people and thank your favored deity that Aaron knows when to quit.

Touch and Go Records:

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