Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Last Mile(s): a review of King of the Road

Recently I wrote about Miles O'Keeffe, movie star and former resident of west Tennessee. Thanks to that post, I corresponded with Monica Surrena, the writer-director of Miles' most recent work, a short film titled King of the Road. You can see the trailer here, and she was kind enough to send me a DVD.

King is the story of Wild Bill, an aging biker who simultaneously loses his dog and his favorite bar. He challenges the bar's new owner to a bike-off in a bid to regain both his watering hole and his self-respect. As the poster's tag line says, "A man without a bar is no man at all."

As I said, this is a short film (20 minutes) so it makes its points quickly and clearly. It also feels like a movie, something a lot of short films (and I was a judge for a local film festival last year, so I'm speaking from experience) don't accomplish, or often bother to try to achieve. There's humor, pathos, and narrative surprises that come out of left field and yet feel perfectly right for the story. And there is a story, well-constructed and effective. The film's also shot in widescreen format, and Surrena gets the most out of her means, resulting in that rarest of qualities in today's flash-cut film world: King of the Road actually has real movie sweep.

And Miles? He's dead-on. The rapport with his best pal Igor (John Bigham) is perfect. Plus the cultural weight he brings to the part (former big-screen actor now working in student films) is exactly right for a once-famous outlaw biker. I admit to teasing his image a little in my prior post, but his work here, while definitely amusing in places, is no joke.

Surrena is currently shopping King of the Road to film festivals, so if you're involved in one, let the organizers know. There are enough navel-gazing one-joke short films out there; your audience deserves a film that's also a real movie.


Dale said...

This sounds great. I look forward to seeing it. Hope that Miles and Monica try a wonderful festival here in Birmingham called the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

Wieland Smith said...

Looks like I missed it this year, but will try next year:)

Jackie said...

KOTR (or King of the Road) flat out rocks and was made with such heart. Surrena's passion comes out in the characters, the setting, the dialogue, everything. Check it out!