Tchoupitoulas

Tchoupitoulas ★★★★★

I really don't have dreams, but last night I did.

After hearing about the film from the wonderful reviews of Marcissus and tsar and having just gotten back from a vacation to New Orleans this past summer, to say that Tchoupitoulas interested me was an understatement. I needed to see it.

I was only in the Big Easy for a week, but I had already fallen in love with the city pretty much within hours of being there. The voodoo shops, the unique accents, the flavorful food, the curbside vendors, the street performers, the vomit, the drunks, the Jester (the worlds strongest drink apparently) and the infamous neon drenched sleaze fest Bourbon Street. New Orleans is the real sin city. I have no daytime memories of The Big Easy. The city exists entirely in a nocturnal stream-of-consciousness within my mind.

The film itself is a quasi documentary following three young African American brothers and their dog as they wander the streets of New Orleans in real time over the course of one night. In the short hour and twenty minutes the boys lazily navigate a city they don't quite understand yet. They look upon the late night festivities wide eyed and with faces etched in endless wonder. The culture of New Orleans does something strange to people in that it puts them in some kind of daze. No, that's not the liquor. Its easy to get drunk off the atmosphere and to this date no film I've ever seen has captured New Orleans in this same intoxicating fashion. The film meanders and wanders with no rhyme or reason and has very little plot to speak of. The boys miss their ferry home after spending the evening walking their dog and skipping rocks into the mississippi. They are forced to keep busy and explore the streets as they wait for the ferry to reopen in the morning. Thats essentially all that happens.

I expected to see landmarks and familiar buildings in the film but I did not expect that the boys would take the almost exact route I walked one day with my sister. Across the train tracks to Canal St and finally hitting Bourbon. It was very surreal and as I sat there twiddling my souvenir voodoo beads in my hand I could almost smell the Cajun food and taste the thick Louisiana air. For a brief period of time I was back there. The blurs of motion, the mellow lights, the dark bustling city, and the soft aching music put me under like a drug. Tchoupitoulas is one of the greatest examples of the raw power of simplistic mood.

The films name itself (an actual street in New Orleans) invokes a certain kind of flavor and atmosphere that I think fits this film so well. The boys wanderings cut with VoiceOvers about their dreams and aspirations is a perfect elegy to a city filled with wandering souls trapped in its timeless void. I'm surprised I've come up with this much to say about the film since it really is quite simple. I think it has to do with the fact that Ive recently had a brief love affair with the city and its people. Like the boys walking the streets paved in years of sin, I want to be in New Orleans. I want to spend the rest of my days walking its streets.

But I don't want to be trapped there.

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