Real Stories of the Donut Men

(Comedy b/w 16mm)

Influenced by Andy Warhol's pop culture perspective as well as Robert Rodriguez' fast-pacing and stylish montage, Real Stories of the Donut Men, the feature directorial debut by Australian-born Beeaje Quick, is a disappointing effort to apply a post-modern sensibility to its chronicle of a day in the lives of two Hispanic cops in L.A. Episodic and exceedingly fractured, and ultimately more irritating than entertaining, this black-and-white exercise shows some mastery of technical skills, but fails to deliver a satisfying experience, which means pic is destined to travel the festival road.

Juan Palotes (played by director Beeaje) is a young, ambitious filmmaker who experiences the worst nightmares a person can have in L.A.: brutal beating by white cops, inefficient city bureaucracy, car-towing for a minor violation. One the verge of imitating the Michael Douglas character in Falling Down and taking the law into his own hands, Palotes opts for a more original strategy: Why not use his camera to record social injustice–and let steam off.

Following God and Homes, a pair of anarchist punk rockers whom he had met at city hall, Palotes vows to make them officers if they promise to do what real cops are notorious for doing. As it turns out, they don't need much encouragement, throwing themselves with relish–and vengeance–into their new positions. Taking their tasks seriously, they slap people around, harass pretty girls on the streets, cavort with underage cheerleaders, and so on.

Helmer Beeaje tries too hard to use the kind of jokey humor that Kevin Smith displayed in Clerks, but he doesn't have much to say. Nastily witty in brief moments, but tediously repetitious in many others, the film provides sporadically some sharp commentary on “routine” police work and on what it “means” to be a filmmaker. But the self-reflexiveness and deliberately exaggerated drollery prove tiresome, and it doesn't help that many of the jokes are targeted at gays and lesbians.

Composed for the most part of one-liners, brief encounters with various city types, and snippets of imagery, Real Stories can't sustain its initial energy, and its furious pacing and dazzling black-and-white montages wear their novelty thin after the first reel.

A Beeaje Quick production. Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Pamela Cederquist and Rana Joy Glickman. Executive producer, Melissa Carrey. Directed, written by Beeaje Quick. Camera (b/w 16 mm), Sead Mutharevic; editors, Dan Fort, Ethan Maniquis, Michael Brandt; production design, Tashia Hales. Reviewed at South By Southwest Film Festival, Austin, Texas, March 7, 1997. Running time: 87 min.

With: Beeaje Quick, Ignacio Alvarez, Randy Gatica, Eddie Daniels, Melissa carrey, Christina Fulton, Peachy Keene, Corbin Timbrook.