The Filmsnobs "Flyover" Film Series: The Champ
A Film That Shows the Problems of Trying to Be Cool While Living in Manhattan, KS.

Think Globally, Act Locally. That is the mantra for any successful social or political grassroots organization. In order to change the way the world thinks and/or acts, you have to pump up your ideas amongst those in close proximity. Get the word out and who knows what will happen. Well, dear reader, just as grassroots crusaders Ralph Nadar and Mike Ferrell before us, the Filmsnobs are on a mission. As smart-ass film lovers from the Midwest, we have an almost selfish interest in promoting filmmakers from this neck of the woods. I mean, not only does it shed a light on the sarcastic wit and penetrating intelligence of entertainment from here (Hey! That sounds just like us here at www.filmsnobs.com!), but it also means that the national filmmaking community may perhaps see the "Flyovers", or the area of the US between LAX and Laguardia, as IMPORTANT. People would get good gigs in La-la Land, good movies would get made that everyone could enjoy, and film festivals and big industry happenings would start sprouting up in places like Lawrence, KS and/or Columbia, MO or where ever. And that means that the Film Snobs could enjoy a lobster and steak buffet with Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert or partake in a post-party free bar where we could shot gun Budweisers with Chris Gore of Film Threat.With this in mind, the Film Snobs present the Flyover Film Series: It is our hope that, by reviewing local films, that some good folks with some real talent can be exposed to our small yet geographically spread-eagled and rabid audience.

So keep all of that in mind when I acknowledge that the first film in this series, the ten-minute comedy The Champ, was made by some friends yours truly, Jimmy O. One may be thinking: Sure! This will be an objective review just like that slober job he did on Laura Kirk last October. But let me begin by saying that the film is kind of fun and clever.(And yes, Lisa Picard is Famous is that good. So piss off!) There's this guy, self-described as The Champ by Kyle Fitzpatrick (Trey Hock), who goes to school at Kansas State and... Wait, don't laugh yet. Sure, this bottom of the Big 12 school in Manhattan, KS is a hotbed of toothless agriculture business majors and slutty Dogpatch rejects, but I haven't even got to the jokey plot yet. But I digress from that embarrassingly Jayhawk-biased and Crimson and Blue- painted statement. Anyway, in an attempt to meet women and to "be in", our hero begins to emulate the moves and attitude of hip hop, urban artists. He struts around the Little Apple as a cross between Greg Brady and Eminem. It's gets a great deal of attention with the people that he encounters until he gets up the courage to strut his stuff in the big circuit with his version of "All School" dancing. Needless to say, this white boy gets a good lesson on his place in our socioeconomic culture. While the film has the "set-up then punch line" rhythm" of most short films, it does tap into an interesting mentality among rural Midwestern kids who get into this kind of music. Most people, in their grandstanding Newsweek editorials or whatever, dismiss this trend as simple posing. But look closer and you'll see a deeper connection. Most good and effective rap and hip hop don't just talk about being black or living in the inner city, they talk about being poor and deprived and angry. The music can almost be Marxist in the way it mixes the angry attitudes of the poor with a general, cultural mood. That's why artists like Eminem, a Missouri boy, is so big. He doesn't care if you're back or white. He reaches to the disillusioned and the frustrated and the angry. That can exist in Detroit...or Kansas. What is so funny is that The Champ buys into the pose without any of the posturing. There's no understanding of what this music is really about. What comes off as cool at a glance is merely pathetic once examined at any great length. The film that seemingly understands the absurdity of a white loser that gleans onto something very socially important, turns it into a trick, and then has it blow up in ridicule.

Now, why wouldn't you give that a chance? Still have doubts? Well, let me gain some trust in the potentially flappable reader by saying that the film is not perfect, particularly in some of the normal trappings of low-budget filmmaking. I never understood why people with no access to great sound and/or camera equipment spend so much energy on external shooting. There's always too much wind and actors end up being cast in permanent shadow. Sacrificing "scope" in a story may make the storytelling much more tolerable. And then there are the actors. Mind you I'm not expecting a whole lot regarding professionalism. This is more of a technical point. Low budget filmmakers have a tendency to cast actors who are used to a theater setting. They position themselves crooked in order for the "auditorium" to catch all expressions. Every physical moment is exaggerated. THEY PROJECT. Some of the performers in The Champ come off that way. It needs to be more natural. That's what film is really about. Most of the performers here, like Hock, are actually pretty good and seem to understand how film acting is done. Some of the smaller roles don't come off quite as well. Other than that, I refuse to nitpick. The guys who made this film had no money and had to film it over the span of a few weekends. It's clever and fun and I enjoyed watching it. Who the hell am I to complain and dissect, really?

I am a film critic, that's who the hell I am! And I say that The Champ is worth ten minutes of your time on the web. I've got the link right below the article where one can view the film. And I also have an offer to any other local artists out there: Shimes and I are very serious about pimping the Flyovers. There's a great deal of talent here with no attention. If you've got a movie that you think is pretty good, e-mail us and we'll try to set something up. And if the readers like this stuff, let us know. It could possibly be the only feedback these filmmaker's get outside of friends, families, and/or investors. So take off that "Nadar-LaDuke" T-shirt, throw down that staged, blood-soaked bag of Starbucks coffee, and get behind something worthwhile. Besides, watching The Champ is a lot more fun than being a member of the Green Party.

Click here to Watch "The Champ" and to Check out the All School Web Site!

The Pitch:

2 Save the Last Dance

Plus

1 Vanilla Ice

Equals

           

3 The Champ