Static ★★★★

Static is almost like, I dunno, maybe an odd 80's new-wave cross between Herzog (the dreams and ambitions of someone who may be insane, or just lost) with the idiosyncrasies of a Wes Anderson or something. But really it's still all Romanek - see his 2nd film, which I now mistakenly thought was his first, One Hour Photo, for another display of a story of a man who is really screwed up, but we know why and it makes it all the more painfully awkward and awful. In this case Keith Gordon isn't quite the actor that Robin Williams was there, but he fits for such a character who is genuinely likable and can get someone to believe him - until they see his invention, with their own eyes.

What makes his story so heartbreaking, and this is taking aside the climax (or the resolution of it) which takes a turn into a WTF moment that I'm still not sure how to process as good or bad for the film, is that this character has genuine talent, after all he spent two years making a specialized antenna with a TV set. But it's all due to trauma that no one around him - certainly not bug-f*ck crazy cousin Bob Gunton (Warden Norton from Shawshank Redemption, a fantastically nutty performance if one-note), or even his very understanding and warm girlfriend Julie (who has an odd moment at the very start of the film where she quits a new-wave band for... what reason, I guess to go back to Ernie, but it seems so sudden as to not really be necessary, despite being well-shot and musically interesting).

It's at its most compelling as a study of this guy who has never fully processed his loss... or maybe he has, and is using this invention as a way of finding his way of getting back. Or, with this invention that projects on TV heaven, it's the Herzogian line: these are not just my dreams, they are yours as well. Is heaven a place on Earth, or just a bunch of white noise? It's an odd little marvel, imperfect but charming because of them (like that whole sequence on the bus, which is so absurd it's hard not to laugh, even if it's difficult to not see the old ladies as anything but genteel types, why not one old lady on the bus who is like 'oh gimme a break'?)

If you want to find something truly obscure but sweetly deranged with a backbeat of Elvis and Brian Eno, look no further - as if most of us are looking for those things anyway. That it should have received a DVD release already is a major understatement, if only due to the at least known quantity of Keith Gordon and Amanda Plummer, or Romanek, who (somewhat) sadly remains the more under-appreciated filmmakers from the music-video pack that came from the 90's (i.e. Fincher, Jonze, Gondry, etc).