Apr 102005
Authors: Ryan Skeels

It's not often that an independent movie stands a chance of showing its face in the mainstream-movie mecca that is Fort Collins.

The only place that even dares to show limited-release flicks is the Carmike 10 theater on Horsetooth Road, and even then the theater likes to keep the same film playing for months at a time.

What an unexpected decision it was for Carmike to choose "Off the Map" to put in its theater.

Taking place in the desolate lands of New Mexico in the '70s, this 2003 Sundance Film Festival release is a virtually plot-less, yet beautifully poetic story of a subsistence-farming family and its strange run-in with an Internal Revenue Service agent from out east.

Joan Allen and Sam Elliot star as Arlene and Charley, caretakers of the land and parents of the life-lesson-learning Bo. While tending to her garden in the buff one morning, Arlene is startled by taxman William Gibbs, who has traveled across the country to question this hippie-commune-esque family about the lack of taxes it has filed the past few years. As suddenly as he has arrived, Gibbs is sent into a delirious state from a bee sting and is forced to stay on the family's couch for a month before abruptly coming to and falling in love with the land and people alike.

"Off the Map" continues to epitomize modern life in this fashion with incredibly deep and original dialogue and imagery. The cinematography and editing turns this seemingly dull and bland film into one with majestic tones and inspiring visuals.

The first hour drags by a little but forces you into a relationship with the characters, making you fall in love with each of their oddly unique mannerisms. After that first hour you'll find yourself enthralled in Bo's character as a young girl looking to fulfill her dreams and become part of society as a credit-card-wielding, three-ring-circus-leading, grown woman.

This day and age in Hollywood sure is a brutal one for directors such as Campbell Scott when they attempt to make a slow-paced movie. It used to be standard for films to move slowly, developing plots and characters at a less-than-supersonic pace. Nowadays though, with the epileptic commercials and sit-coms people have become addicted to, it's tough to keep most awake for two hours of a dialogue-driven story.

For a multi-leveled movie that takes its time in getting nowhere fast with a inspiringly touching end, head on down to the only independent screen in town.

3 out of 4

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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