Bellflower: A Totally Apocalyptic Movie Review
The Madness that is Bellflower
Bellflower is utterly unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before. I’m sure it has similarities to other films on superficial levels, but nothing else that I’ve ever seen is like this. Here is my take on Bellflower, one of the greatest movies ever made.
The Story (BEWARE SPOILERS)
The story focuses on Woodrow and Aidan, two good friends in who live in Bellflower, an LA suburb. These guys live hard, drink hard, love to tinker around with things, and seem to be enjoying life. At first the story seems to be another indie film about some 20 something slackers who hang out while trying to figure out life. But its so much more, apocalytically more.
One night while the two friends are at a bar, Woodrow meets Milly when they are pitted against each other in a grasshopper eating contest. They hit it off fairly well and start seeing each other. They end up taking a spur of the moment road trip and it seems like the relationship is going well. Eventually though, things sour and an argument leads to an accident. After a serious argument with Milly, Woodrow takes off on his motorcycle only to get hit by a car and his whole world begins to unravel.
A great film on the other hand is one that keeps you from falling asleep at night because you can’t stop thinking about it. A great film is one that you want to watch again as soon as the credits roll. A great film just won’t leave you alone. And for me, Bellflower is all of the above and more.
I watch a good many films and forget a lot of them. So much of what I watch is good, however not everything is great. A good movie is one that you don’t hate. You might watch it again if the occasion arose, but usually seeing it once in more than enough.
Official Bellflower Trailer
Never seen Bellflower? Get your copy today!
Themes in Bellflower
The first time I watched the film I remember thinking how nihilistic it felt. There is excess, violence, and cruelty in the film, yet they are there for a reason.
There may not be some grand philosophical question being addressed in Bellflower, but there is a lot of depth and substance. So instead of me asking, ‘Why so much brutality/ sex/ cruelty/ etc?’ the question I ask why does this film have those elements?
Is it merely a depiction of reality? Is it some kind of fantasy? After having watched the film a few times I realize that the line between reality and fantasy are blurred.
Or at least that’s my take on the story. At the end of the film it is hard to say what happened - was all of it real? Was it all in Woodrow’s head?
Bellflower's budget is almost nonexistent - $17,000. That my friends is about the same as having no budget. Shane Carruth's micro-budget film Primer is the only other film that I know of made in recent years which has a smaller budget (only $7,000!).
As a comparison, smallish indie films in the U.S. still often have budgets in the millions, even as much as $10 million (see table below). And considering that blockbuster films can have budgets well into the hundreds of millions, it seems almost impossible for these guys to have made a feature length film for that amount of money.
However despite its budgetary challenges, Bellflower manages to make a great film on a shoestring, something many what most filmmakers can’t do with millions.
Budgets of other Indie Films (Compared to Bellflower)
Jeff Who Lives at Home
Jay & Mark Duplass
The Spectacular Now
The film looks great. Evan Glodell, who plays Woodrow, actually built the camera from various camera parts (he also built the flamethrower in the film and helped to modify the cars used in the film as well). As a result of this very customized camera, there is a very distinctive look to the film.
Also, the camera work itself is awesome. Joel Hodge, the cinematographer was actually nominated for the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography (which he lost to The Artist, revealing just what kind of company his skills are in).
Conclusions about Bellflower
Bellflower is a head trip in some ways that makes it seem very detached from the real world. In other ways it is rooted in the brutal reality that life is messy and that people who love each other (friends, lovers, family) sometimes do things they regret. In the end, Bellflower is beautiful and will always be one of my favorite films of all time.
The awesomeness of this film cannot be understated. It is amazing in so many ways. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now!
Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins trailer
What's Next for the Coatwolf Crew?
Coatwolf Productions, Evan Glodell's production group is planning to release their next film in 2016.
The world of Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins is described by director Jonathan Keevil, as, “a visually rich world that honors, but doesn't exploit, a time when a street fight necessitated brass knuckles, chains, cut-off jean jackets, and HUGE Mohawks.”