An uncanny indie film about the seemingly never-ending and impossible task of making an indie film, Man Under Table or: “I’m Writing A Movie” warps Los Angeles into an otherworldly, cynical experience of the hollow pursuit of cinematic fulfilment.
Written, directed by and starring Noel David Taylor, this debut feature presents a comically surreal and echoing take on the movie biz and the struggles of writing a film. The film follows Guy (Noel David Taylor), as he waltzes his way from bars to bathrooms to meetings, constantly talking about a fictional movie he pretends to be making. In his quest to establish himself as someone who is seriously making a film, Guy gets tangled up in a number of other people’s random projects, failing to ever make any progress on his own as he is consumed by depression and insensitivity.
In parts, the low-budget aesthetic comes together with charming execution in lighting and costume. Although, the general abstract style of the film takes away far more than it gives in terms of entertainment and visual pleasure. Man Under Table gets stuck in the clunky confines of its abnormal aesthetic and deadpan commentary. It lacks any real consistent emotional insight or layered social examination. The constant mentioning of fracking and identity politics throughout could make for an interesting plot point, if any of the themes set up were explored with more depth.
However, this in fact remains the point of the film, as the repetitive, empty and boring conversations Guy contributes to are clearly supposed to represent how it feels to be a writer in the industry, constantly competing against homophobia, nepotism and a buzz word, profit-driven culture to be heard.
Man Under Table presents a take so niche it feels like you have to be from LA to appreciate half the humour. With this in mind, perhaps much of the comedy is lost in translation once the film crosses over seas to an audience beyond the realms of Hollywood. Uncomfortable and boring in parts, this bizarre indie flick lacks any real purpose other than the dead-pan satirical anguish of its dystopian Hollywood setting. Consequently, Man Under Table leaves no real lasting remark or offers any real closure on the commentary its making, with the overall result coming off as a weird waste of time.
Man Under Table is available to stream on ARROW in the US, UK and Canada from August 2nd
by Kelsie Dickinson