February 18, 2015

Movie Review: Mr. Jones

I am actually a little surprised to say this, but I am getting a bit tired of foud footage movies. Sure, I still like the good ones and I am still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I think some fatigue is starting to settle in. The gimmick can be an effective format, but, I don't know, it is becoming a bit predictable. Even with those thoughts in the back of my mind, I took a stab at Mr. Jones. The movie proved to be interesting, to a degree, but sort of reinforced some of the things that are pushing me away from the style. Still, I think it is a movie worth giving a shot to, it is a blend of good and bad, resulting in a compelling mediocrity.

Mr. Jones opens with a couple, Scott (Jon Foster) and Penny (Sarah Jones), driving and wondering if they are lost. It turns out they are not and this has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Could it be a nod to the fact that they are trying to stray from the tropes of the found footage film? I don't know, but before long our couple are out at a cabin in the middle of the woods, where Scott plans on making a nature documentary, with the support of his loving girlfriend.

It does not take long for it to be revealed that Scott has no idea what his movie is going to be about. On top of that he has stopped taking his medication (what was he being medicated for? It is never revealed). On top of that, his filming issues bring strain on his relationship with Penny. At this point, I thought I had an idea of where this movie was going. I was wrong.

The movie changes gears as they stumble across a shack in the nearby woods, complete with an underground labyrinth of these scarecrow things. Then there is the guy who lives there. Penny recognizes him as a reclusive artist (the titular Mr. Jones). So, she stays to record what she can while Scott goes to New York to interview folks in the art world.

The movie ultimately takes a turn for the surreal and bizarre as it abandons the found footage style and moves into a third person perspective as it just gets flat out weird as it steams towards its conclusion. It is a surreal mash of reality and dream, where the two get confused. What is real and what isn't? I suspect there is a lot less reality here than we actually think.

Mr. Jones is certainly intriguing, but it has plenty of faults to go around. I am not sure the early misdirection was needed, especially when it gets dropped in the second half. I also take some issue with how our protagonists feel they are entitled to search their neighbors shack and labyrinth without so much as a how do you do. They so casually go about their trespassing. It kind of sucked the air out of everything. Factor in the way they do not explain much, it was like they went out of their way to try and be different, but did not quite make it all the way.

Still, I liked some of the found footage style, like how they worked two cameras together so that the camera operator and the subject are being filmed simultaneously. I like the idea of a reclusive artist who makes weird art and lives reclusively. I was somewhat intrigued by the Terrence Malick-esque feel early on. It just falters with the self important couple, some dropped threads (the medication and their relationship, in particular), and a weird ending that just races to the conclusion without showing much. It is interesting, to a point.

Mildly Recommended.

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