TWEEK CITY
by Carl Macki

 
(A Maverick Platinum Film) Suggested Retail Price:$16.95

A Tweek City LLC presentation in association with Traveller Film. Produced by Eric G. Johnson, Caitlin Maynard, Yule Caise. Directed, written by Eric G. Johnson.
 
With: Giuseppe Andrews, Elizabeth Bogush, Keith Brunsmann, Eva Fisher, Demetrius Navarro. (English, Spanish dialogue)

When I first saw "Tweek City ," I was astounded by its messy and seamless, artless style.   It was so cool!

It immediately reminded me of the Sixties teen satire, "Lord Love A Duck," by George Axelrod, the screenwriter for "Breakfast At Tiffany's" and "The Manchurian Candidate."

But Eric G. Johnson and cinematographer Barry Stone had something heavier in mind, so the comparison stops here.

"Tweek City" takes a wild ride in the life of Bill, a supposedly bisexual 'speed' dealer in SF who visits both poles of a personality disorder over several days.

He is beset by demons--memories of his mother's suicide,mostly, but possibly his guilt over his repressed homosexuality that flares up in one tremendous scene with a Latina drag queen in the Mission District of SF.

Perhaps that is why he is so attached to metaphetamine. The hallucinations of the drug mix in with the action of his day-to-day life. It is hard to tell one from the other. That's one reason why this movie is so nitty-gritty and why it hits hard.

Bill, as antihero, played brilliantly by Guiseppe Andrews, recalled to me the Terence Stamp role in Pier Paulo Pasolini's cinematic deduction, "Teorema," even though that movie's cockeyed, almost story-less plot makes Tweek City look like "The Godfather" by comparison. Substitute Guiseppe Andrews for Terence Stamp. The dreamy and ridiculous situations. The sparse dialogue and you've got it--another New Wave classic, about forty years later.

Bill relations with the opposite sex are quite weird. That's where the repressed homosexuality comes in perhaps. But BIll finds it difficult to love, even himself. Fear and guilt haunt him, and the drugs only increase the distortion in his perception. There is a scene with a young woman that involves shit, and another running sub story line about an ex-girlfriend who poses for a 'skin' magazine.

It was unclear to me whether this was actually a committed relationship or one in which Jerm was exaggerating as a joke.

 

Jerm apparently is Bill's only friend. He opens up to him emotionally but they are not in a physical relationship. I don't think Bill is homosexual because in a situation of intimacy with another guy he doesn't show any erotic tendencies. The drag queen is another story. 

Tragedy is a constant companion for Bill.

At a punk rock show, where Ginger Coyote and her band the White Trash Debutantes perform, Jerm takes a stage dive and becomes injured, then left for dead.

Bill's struggles with Germ's injury and escapes from San Francisco to Los Angeles where he visits his high school girl friend's Sharon's wedding, and threatens her with a weapon.

The ending is where it really get poetic. Without spoiling it for the viewer, I can liken it to elements of "Babel," Alejandro González Iñárritu's recent masterpiece, especially the scenes in the desert near San Diego.

Eric Johnson and cinematographer Barry Stone are to be commended for using a soft tone to the visualizations of this troubling story line. In the hands of less gentle souls, this film could have turned into an incredible downer.

Eric Johnson is no tyro when it comes to film direction. In 1990 Eric received his Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and film
from the University of California at Santa Cruz. At the university he concentrated on eight films and also wrote and directed several plays.

He also has lived in San Francisco and currently, Los Angeles. In the Bay Area, he worked as a stage manager and equipment coordinator for CineRent, and worked on countless productions, including music video and commercials shoots.

Johnson was a gaffer on Rob Nilsson's Chalk, and accepted the precepts of Nilsson's Direct Action Cinema - a film direction methodology that stresses improvisation.

In 2001, Eric joined Group 101 Films ( www.group101films.com).,a major producer of short films , and did six films in six months; and one them them, "Tiny Tortures," screened at the Short Order Film Fest in 2002

As a writer he has credits for the features Soul Patrol (Film Roman Films) and Finders Keepers (T-Bone Films).

For a few years he was a head writer at Sony Online Entertainment and supervised the writing for JEOPARDY! (online), wrote for All Access: Totally Tricked Out Rides (VH1 -- 2003). Eric also wrote and directed for a CD ROM, Garage Band, a comic look at the music business.

Johnson has also been active on the stage, although a little more obscurely than on film, directing Don't Get Smart With Me Missy, featuring Fred Willard; and Pothead Porn Dwarfs.

In other words, as a creative artist in a fairly new career, "he's been there, done that;" and what can we look for next from him  but something totally exciting and unexpected.

 

 

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