James Vogel’s The City

By Colleen Powers

The City is a strange and twisted dark comedy/thriller from director James Vogel. The City, USA, 2009

Directed by James Vogel

Shameless Plug Alert – The following is a review originally published in The Wake magazine (http://www.wakemag.org/) of a film co-written by and starring Movies I Didn’t Get’s own head editor, Ezra Stead. We are republishing it as part of our continuing quest to provide information on lesser-known films, as well as mainstream and indie movies that are on the entire nation’s radar. While Ezra edited and posted the review, he had no hand at all in its writing, outside of the quoted interview segments below:

The City, first screened at Minneapolis’s Oak Street Cinema on November 19, 2009, may sound like any other violent, low-budget action flick trying to live up to Scorsese or Tarantino, but a clever premise laced with smart subtext and wicked humor makes this a film worth seeing.

“I’d like people to walk away questioning what it is by their nature that makes them entertained by certain aspects of media,” writer/director James Vogel says. “Why do we as an audience expect to see violence and sex in films, and why are we entertained by it?”

Vogel and his co-writers and stars, Ezra Stead and Greg Hernandez, clearly put a lot of thought into the meaning behind the film’s graphic images. Their story tells of a screenwriting student who falls in love with a charismatic underworld figure while seeking experience to inform his scripts. The relationship between characters Scott (Stead) and T.K. (Hernandez), who get off on the violent acts they commit, is ripe with barely concealed undertones.

“There exists this kind of tension in gangster films, a homosexual subtext,” Vogel says. “Characters who revel in violence are somewhat fascinated with each other.”

Stead also points to the relationship between sex and violence. “Wanting to kill someone for the experience is like trying to lose your virginity,” he says.

Vogel and Stead met as students at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Vogel asked Stead to help him write the script and star in the film, and Stead suggested his friend Hernandez for the role of T.K. They shot the film in 16 days for a budget of $8,000.

Though pleased with their finished product, the filmmakers are also eager to hear negative responses. “It’s a very personalized experience and a polarized reaction, and that’s what interests me,” Vogel says. Stead agrees. “We’d rather someone hate our film than just brush it off and forget about it,” he adds.

For more information about this film, please visit: http://www.jamesvogelpresents.com/James_Vogel_Presents/The_City.html

Contact the Author: Contributor@MoviesIDidntGet.com


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