Sunday, June 03, 2012

"Ultrasonic" is a quirky BW thriller filmed in Washington DC "real people" neighborhoods


The film “Ultrasonic”, directed and largely planned and written by Rohit Cohen Rao, recalls the 2001 local hit “Five Lines” by Nicholas Panagopulos, as an eccentric film plotted around the idiosyncrasies of local neighborhood life in Washington, DC.  The Metro gets filmed a lot in this one, too (but just the Green Line this time, going through Shaw).

The new film is shot in black-and-white, and Cinemascope, giving the indoor scenes the “Hud” look, after the 1963 classic film that explored this technique.  But there are strategic colorizations: of the crew and cast during the credits, of Simon’s earplugs (pink), and, with very gentle pastels, of the interior walls of the homes sometimes, emphasizing the way “they” want to pacify the lower classes with psychological saltpeter.  The camera work dawdling over bedspread patterns is really quite abstract in black and white.

Simon (Silas Gordon Brigham) is a club musician and part-time piano teacher, married to Ruth (Cate Buscher).   He is well cast, with a buzz cut and not overly good looking or geeky, a kind of “average joe” in demeanor.  Times are hard, as he is losing pupils because of the economy.  He encounters a troubled friend Jonas (Sam Repshas), who has been treated (or confronted with interventions) about his “delusions” over government and alien abduction plots (one of which is explained over Skype).  Simon starts to hear high pitched buzzing sounds (signified by a moog music score rollicking between triple (waltz-like) and syncopated quadruple rhythms.  He goes to an audiologist, who finds he has mild mid range hearing loss from playing in rock bands, but unusual ability to high extremely high frequencies.  Actually, noise induced hearing loss, as from gunfire in the military, often focuses on the high midrange.

Soon Simon and Jonas become a tag team playing detective, and soon pull apart city speed and surveillance cameras  (who likes those photo traffic tickets, anyway?), looking for the source of the sound, and Simon for a while thinks he’s discovered the conspiracy.  But it only then gets really dangerous for everyone.

This little film (90 min) is quite a thriller.  I saw it late Sunday afternoon at the West End Cinema in DC, and apparently it was a showing just for me.

The official site from Garden Thieves pictures.


Second picture: I have a friend join me for a snack outside the West End Cinema. 

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