One of the key pillars of postmodernist thinking is that there is no longer such thing as an original idea. We have too much culture and too much art, now it is impossible to create something that is not heavily informed by what came before – so why bother to even try? This kind of thinking has brought forth great work from cinematic postmodern maestros like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, who use their encyclopaedic knowledge of our collective culture to recycle the best bits of movies, music, and more into new and exciting shapes.
But these postmodern filmmakers mine the best of the films they grew up on, whose makers were striving for innovation and originality. What happens when a filmmaker grows up influenced by directors whose modus operandi is to crib from what came before? With Fidel Ruiz-Healy’s A Band of Thieves comes a dystopian look at what movies could be like if their only source of inspiration is other movies which were themselves inspired by other movies – and so on.
This superficially entertaining 15-minute nugget is a riff on the great western and crime flicks of the mid-20th century. Josie (Olivia Osteen) longs to be like Bonnie Parker or John Wayne but her sleepy Texan suburb won’t play along, so she steals a gun and heads off on a ride-or-die crime spree.
Ruiz-Healy’s childish exuberance and abandon and his sweet pint-sized antiheroes are amusing enough, but his hubris is in the how all of this feels like an emulation of the great emulators who came along sooner. Smash cuts, sound effects, pristine shot setup, and explosive colour are all lifted straight from the Taratino/Anderson playbook. Any allusions to other media just become references to other references, resulting in a technically impressive but ultimately hollow, and culturally bankrupt, short.
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DIRECTOR & WRITER: Fidel Ruiz-Healy
EDITOR: Katherine Yates
STARRING: Olivia Osteen, Quinn Erickson, Julie Phillips
SYNOPSIS: The story of a young, western-obsessed girl hell-bent on turning her quiet Texas suburb into the lawless playground of her imagination.