Review by Michael Jacobson
Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Renee Humphrey, Carmen Lee, Martin Brooks
Directors: Matt Gissing and Malcolm Ingram
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 76 Minutes (Director’s Cut approx. 81 Minutes)
Release Date: February 26, 2002
EVER touch my f—king map!”
you love Kevin Smith movies, do you? Me,
too. Ever heard of Drawing
Flies? Me, neither.
nothing to be ashamed of, according to the press info from IndieDVD, who are
releasing this film to disc for the first time. Drawing Flies has been called the “lost View
Askew” film. It was written and
directed by a couple of young indie filmmakers, Matt Gissing and Malcolm Ingram,
who got the green light and the money through Kevin Smith, who liked the idea so
much that he had Miramax include $80,000 in his annual budget just to produce
two inexpensive independent films per year, a la his debut movie Clerks.
the picture came between Mallrats and Chasing Amy, and Gissing and
Ingram managed to corral some of the castmates from those films into their
production. You’ll see Jason Lee
and Renee Humphrey from Mallrats, Carmen Lee from Chasing Amy, and
Jason Mewes from ALL of Smith’s films, along with some fun surprise cameos
along the way I wouldn’t dream of spoiling for you.
its own life and vitality…save for a scene that discusses which character was
really the hero of the Scooby Doo cartoons, this doesn’t have Kevin
Smith’s stamp on it. It’s the
story of a group of twenty-something slackers in Canada who end up on a rather
bizarre adventure in the wilderness.
Wednesday”, Donner (Jason Lee) calls it.
The day when happily unemployed wayfarers like himself and his friends
show up and collect their allowance from the government.
And just think, if the government had simply handed the checks over this
time, we’d have no movie!
faced with no cash and the prospect of losing their measly living quarters,
Donner hatches a plan…he and his friends can stay at a relative’s cabin in
the woods. It will involve a few
days’ hiking, but what else are they gonna do?
Soon he, Az (Mewes), Meg (Humphrey), Cassidy (Carmen Lee) and Jake
(Brooks) are all reluctantly following their pioneering leader.
However…is Donner telling the whole truth? Or has the whole system become too much for him, leading him to taking a desperately insane way out, and taking his unknowing friends with him?
me put it this way…Donner believes he can find Bigfoot.
friends, blissfully unaware at first, simply go along for the ride, stealing
food here and there, smoking plenty of grass, bickering and discussing any
transient thought that crosses their somewhat empty lives, but each becoming
more and more convinced that their fearless leader may not have all of his
should point out, in all fairness, that if you don’t generally like
independent films, you probably won’t get into Drawing Flies at all.
If you have a comfort level that relies solely on big budgets and
polished productions, then don’t let the names sway you.
Jason Lee and other cast members have since established themselves as
viable stars, true, but they weren’t stars when they made this film, which was
cheaply shot, recorded and edited. It’s
not quite as tightly focused as movies like Clerks or The Blair Witch
Project, but for people who enjoy indie films, the lack of visible money is
really part of the charm.
and Ingram are both very promising directors.
They have a good eye for lighting, camera placement, and detail.
Many of the shots in the film are decidedly beautiful, and very well
constructed. I’m guessing both of
them know their Kurosawa, because more than one sequence actually reminded me of
the great Japanese director’s uncanny sense of creating spatial relations
within a shot by layering scenery in foreground and background to create a sense
of depth. One shot in particular
stands out, as the cast walks across a very long, very high rope suspension
bridge. The steadicam work is
impressive, and whoever had to hold that camera and walk backwards across that
bridge to get that shot is a much braver man than I.
far as writing goes, there is some talent there, but one gets the feeling it’s
not as fully developed as it’s going to be.
The script is amusing, but there aren’t many genuinely big laughs.
The dialogue is acute, but given the nature of the characters, rarely
says anything of substance. The cast is all good, and as Smith points out in the
introduction, this movie helped him decide to cast Jason Lee in a more dramatic
role in Chasing Amy. He goes
a little mad here, but not over the top…it’s a quiet, introspective kind of
maybe it’s not insanity. Is the
ending a cheat? I can’t decide,
but you’ll have to agree, there’s only two ways the picture could have
really ended, and frankly, I couldn’t tell you which one would have been the
better choice. Maybe the underlying
point is that insanity is no more or less grounded a reality than sanity itself.
Or maybe it's that a man deserves some kind of validation for
stripping down to his shorts and smearing himself from head to toe with dirt and
don’t know…all things considered, I think I’ll pick the former.
don’t get Janusz Kaminski for $40,000, so don’t consider my two star rating
a condemnation. Considering the low
budget and the obviously inexpensive high contrast film stock, it’s not a bad
looking disc. The problems are
expected ones…a bit of softness here and there, a bit of grain in low light
settings…but overall, I’d say nothing about the film’s look either A) can
be blamed on the actual DVD transfer, or B) detracts from the overall effect of
audio sounds about like what you’d expect for a cheaply made film…dialogue
is generally clear, but with one or two moments where the mikes don’t quite
pick up as well as they should. There
is minor noisiness throughout and one or two dropouts here and there.
Though the box says both stereo and Dolby Surround tracks are included, I
only noticed one track, and as best as I could tell, it was a simple stereo mix.
are two commentary tracks, a more “serious” one with creators Matt Gissing
and Malcolm Ingram, and a more “fun” one with them plus Jason Lee, Jason
Mewes, Renee Humphrey, Carmen Lee, Scott Mosier, and Kevin Smith.
The latter is definitely the better listen…more participants mean more
aspects get covered. It sounds like
a group of friends unwinding at a party after a few beers, and you’re an
is also about 10 minutes of deleted scenes and/or outtakes, a look at three
additional titles from IndieDVD, and a five minute introduction to the film by
Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. A director's cut viewing option also exists,
with an additional five minute scene that neither adds to nor detracts from the
film. It's not exactly seamless branching...the disc goes to another spot
for the extra footage, and then back again when complete.