King of Herrings
directed by Eddie Jemison and Sean Richardson
starring Joe Chest, David Jensen, Wayne Pere, John Mese, Carl Palmer
Pick a place to find a bunch of oddballs with minimal aspirations, maximal quirkiness, and no visible means of support, and chances are you’ll wind up in New Orleans. While this classically abused metropolis is a fine and seedy back drop, the real focus of this film revolves around four guys of indeterminate age and occupation. Leader of the pack is tough guy Ditch (Jemison), he’s a bit of a bully and jealous of his wife Mary (Laura Lamson). His sister Evie (Andrea Frankle) is pregnant and desperate to marry and Mary is sewing the dress out of sheer boredom. Leon had throat cancer and can only talk with a weird microphone that sounds like Stephen Hawking and Gat (David Jensen) chases Evie with what can only be called a muted passion. Then there’s The Professor (Chrest). He may not have been to a real college and he feels like there’s an Elvis impersonator waiting to break out of him, but he is the trouble maker and is after Ritchie’s wife. It’s not her fault; she’s just bored and not too bright.
Part character study, part soap opera, it’s never clear what anyone does to eat. The men pair up; Rich and Gat are tight and commiserate about life while Professor and Leon work together to put the potential seduction into motion. Close camera angles, high contrast black and white film stock and a rolling-in-the-dirt approach to storytelling make this a potential Filmfest winner. While The Professor succeeds in splitting Ritch and Mary he doesn’t have the balls to actually take her somewhere, leaving her the real victim of these boys’ bad behavior. Sharp dialog makes it all worthwhile, you’ll trip on lines like Gat’s “I’m wearing homosexual leisure wear and you’re throwing books out the window.” Amen brother, amen. Like a good party, you’ll enjoy the ride and when the credits role you’ll wonder “What the hell just happened?” Just another night in New Orleans, my friend, just another night.