Black Velvet (2011)

Back in September of 2010, Tim Pape planted the seeds in my brain of a film he was working on called “Black Velvet”.  Today, a strange and discordant shrubbery burst from my skull and all over my television screen.  “Black Velvet” (or at least the festival cut that I watched) is 85 minutes of oddity, confusion, and poetry.  Have you ever met someone that was so disconnected that attempting to follow a conversation with them made you feel as if they were pulling you into madness?  ”Black Velvet” is the film equivalent of that.

Since the film is still technically unreleased, I can’t give away too much, but I can say that it follows two unnamed antagonists with whom any sane viewer could neither sympathize nor relate – they are evil because, it seems, they simply know no other way to be.  There is never a justification for their crimes other than the joy they seem to find in chaos.  They steal, only to leave behind their spoils and find themselves starving again on many occasions.  They spare victims, only to kill them later on a whim.  They befriend only those that show no fear of them – and even then, their short attention spans and fleeting interest lead them to abandon allies almost as soon as they’ve gained them.

Though they spend much of the film wandering a dystopian southwestern desert where they have episodic encounters with a broad range of unusual characters (none of whom are even remotely sane), they also occasionally venture into a modern-era town with stores, electricity, and streets full of operational vehicles, leaving the viewer confused as to when and where this is taking place, and just what the circumstances really are.  At one point, an older man in a pickup truck appears, and seems so average – so normal – that he feels completely out of place in the film.  Sure enough, within minutes, he too descends into madness.  Characters speak in riddles, proverbs, and poetry.  No sequence of actions seems to follow a narrative thread, other than the overarching theme of the two main characters wronging the people they come across and leaving a trail of enemies in their wake.

Wait… does that sound familiar?  This film is truly reflective of its auteur.

Sure enough, karma eventually catches up with them… but I’ll leave it at that for now.  There are clear and intentional flavors of Bonnie and Clyde and “Natural Born Killers”, though the unnamed villains here are far more subtle in their relationship.  There is a more childlike love between them – never sex, never a kiss.  They seek comfort in one another’s presence.  At one point, this film’s Bonnie gets jealous of another pretty girl, and asks Clyde if he likes her.  They play games like children and dip in and out of imaginary roles as if their murderous rampage is all just a pretend adventure.  Unfortunately for those around them, it’s very, very real, and they don’t seem to recognize the gravity of the irrational, violent actions they take… nor do they seem to expect consequences.

“Black Velvet” is touring the festival circuit right now, but should be released either this year or next.  Check out the official website for more details, for a release date when it becomes available, and to contact Last Escape Productions directly and give them a piece of your mind.  Seriously.  Any piece that you don’t use regularly will do.  Do you think Tim Pape’s dark, twisted imagination runs on gatorade or guzzleine?  This man needs to ingest fresh gray matter!  Give it up, wastelanders… before he takes it!

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