Monday, July 02, 2018

Border Radio

Written and directed by Allison Anders, Dean Lent, and Kurt Voss, Border Radio is the story of a journalist who asks a couple of friends to help her find her husband who had stolen money at a music club and has disappeared. The film is a road film of sorts set in Southern California and Mexico as it play into a woman dealing with her husband’s disappearance as she and her daughter try to find him with the help of his friends. Starring Chris D., Luanna Anders, John Doe, and Chris Shearer. Border Radio is an offbeat yet engrossing film from Allison Anders, Dean Lent, and Kurt Voss.

The film is a simple story about a punk rock musician who had stolen money from a crooked promoter with a couple of friends only to disappear afterwards to Mexico where many are asking about the money. It’s a film with a simple premise from its writers in Allison Anders, Dean Lent, and Kurt Voss as it also include improvised dialogue from its cast. Mainly as it play into this musician’s wife who learns that her husband has disappeared over the money he stole prompting her to find him where a young roadie and a musician join in the search as they had helped him steal the money and want their cut. Things get complicated in the search with one of them eventually finding the musician Jeff Bailey (Chris D.) who went to Mexico to deal with his own issues knowing that his marriage is already rocky.

The film’s direction by Anders, Lent, and Voss with Lent being the film’s cinematographer as it is shot in grainy black-and-white 16mm film stock is simple as well as offbeat in its approach towards film noir. Though the film does have a traditional narrative structure, the heist flashback is put in the middle where the directors would emphasize on this mixture of fiction and documentary as many of the characters in the film are interviewed to talk about what Bailey did including his wife Lu (Luanna Anders) who is a journalist that has been disappointed with Bailey’s music and not being around much for their daughter Devon (Devon Anders). There are some hand-held camera shots in the film where Anders, Lent, and Voss emphasize mainly on medium shots and close-ups as it relate to the characters with some wide shots on the locations as it play into this music scene in Los Angeles where much of the film is shot.

Even as the direction play into these odd moments that mixes humor and drama to play with the conventions of film nor as well as its aftermath where the editing by the trio add to the film’s tone in terms of its usage of jump-cuts. Overall, the trio of Anders, Lent, and Voss crafts a quirky yet compelling film about a punk musician who flee to Mexico with stolen money leaving his wife and friends to try and find him.

The sound work of Nietzchka Keene and mixing by Duane Dell’Amico is terrific for the natural sound in its presentation as well as how live music and such sound on a location. The film’s music by Dave Alvin is excellent for its punk-rock based score that has elements of ambient in some parts while the soundtrack features music from many acts from Los Angeles in the punk rock and alternative rock scene from acts such as X, Los Lobos, the Flesh Eaters, Green on Red, the Divine Horsemen, Billy Wisdom and the Hee Shees, the Blasters, and X bassist John Doe.

The film’s superb ensemble cast include some notable small roles from Texacala Jones as a dim-witted babysitter, Chuck Shepard as an American expatriate Bailey meets in Mexico, Julie Christensen as a door girl for a music club, Iris Berry as a scenester who knows a lot about the L.A. music scene in the 1980s, Devon Anders as Lu and Bailey’s daughter Devon, and Chris Shearer as a former bandmate of Bailey in Chris who chats with Lu about music. John Doe is excellent as Dean as a former bandmate of Bailey who took part in the robbery only to have a bad encounter with thugs as he tries to help Lu despite their contentious relationship.

Dave Alvin is fantastic as Dave as a friend of Bailey who also took part in the robbery as he tries to woo Lu. Luann Anders is brilliant as Lu as Bailey’s wife who is also a journalist that is frustrated with their marriage as she tries to find him over the money he stole as well as the chaos of his life. Finally, there’s Chris D. in an amazing performance as Jeff Bailey as a punk rock musician who stole money from a crooked promoter and flees to Mexico by himself where he copes with the direction of his own life both professionally and personally.

Border Radio is a marvelous film from Allison Anders, Kurt Voss, and Dean Lent. Featuring a great cast, a captivating premise, and a killer music soundtrack, it’s a film that play into the conventions of film noir while focusing on the fallacy of crime in the L.A. punk rock/alternative music scene of the late 1980s. In the end, Border Radio is a remarkable film from Allison Anders, Kurt Voss, and Dean Lent.

Allison Ander Films: (Gas Food Lodging) – (Mi Vida Loca) – Four Rooms-The Missing Ingredient - (Grace of My Heart) – (Sugar Town) – (Things Behind the Sun) – (A Crush on You) – (Ring of Fire (2013 film)) – (Beaches (2017 film))

© thevoid99 2018

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