Ninety-five bucks and 51 cents can by you a lot of movie. That's the amount Zachary Oberzan claims he spent to make Flooding with Love for the Kid, his one-man adaptation of David Morrell's 1972 novel First Blood. Unless you have a lifetime subscription to Soldier of Fortune, chances are slim you've read First Blood, but chances are pretty good you've at least heard of another movie it inspired: 1982's First Blood, AKA Rambo, AKA this:
But while First Blood cost around $15 million and starred Sylvester Stallone as a bugnuts crazy Vietnam vet fighting a one-man war against a small-town sheriff (Brian Dennehy), Flooding with Love cost only $95.51, stars Oberzan in all of the roles, and was shot entirely in Oberzan's Manhattan apartment. With rudimentary special effects, a slew of sound effects, accents, and costume changes, and more enthusiasm and creativity than can be found in most films costing $95 million, Flooding with Love is a surprisingly epic, impressively entertaining experience. Here's a clip:
Unlike the film series' sequels, First Blood is mostly a psychological thriller, with war-damaged Vietnam vet Rambo going wild, flashing back, and making life a living hell for everyone around him. "We forced him into it over there, and now he's bringing it all back home," says one character in Flooding with Love, effectively characterizing Rambo as a couple of things: an antihero, a psychopath, a human byproduct of the military-industrial complex, an action star.
Since it's playing at an artsy-fartsy arts festival, one's tempted to paint Flooding with Love with all sorts of secondary meanings that go beyond its original text: Does Oberzan's one-man production echo Rambo's one-man war? Does Oberzan feel that all of First Blood's characters represent different facets of the same individual? Is Oberzan commenting on the different methods of adapting a novel for the screen? Will attending Flooding with Love for the Kid finally make it okay for art dweebs to publicly admit they thought 2008's ludicrously violent Rambo was actually kinda badass?
Blah blah blah. I don't mean to discredit Oberzan, who's clearly a smart and funny and clever and talented guy; nor do I want to underestimate whatever he's trying to do with Flooding with Love. But it's worth pointing out that his film is, first and foremost, entertaining—like one of my favorite action films, El Mariachi, there's a ton of fun to be had in watching Oberzan use minimal resources to craft a full-fledged narrative. Oberzan's a sharp performer—he really does inhabit a few different major roles here, sometimes even sharing the screen with himself, and they all remain distinct—but more importantly, he's got a streak of raw ingenuity and a gift for editing that enables this lo-fi production to work much better than it should. Fine arthouse cinema? Not by a long shot. A welcome reminder of the sort of movies one can make with little more than dedication and creativity? Definitely.
Flooding with Love for the Kid plays tonight and tomorrow night at 8:30 pm at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium (1219 SW Park). Tickets are $8-9.
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