Review: Fabled

Ari Kirschenbaum’s groovy direction ensures that Fabled is good for one spin.

Photo: Indican Pictures

In Fabled, a week or so in the life of an inexplicably wealthy office drone’s life is sporadically (and bizarrely) framed by a narrated fairy tale about two men, Lupold and Ravetti, and a mysterious black beast that haunts a gothic countryside. Troubled by flashes of a crime he may or may not have committed, Joseph Fable (Go’s Desmond Askey) starts popping pills and his escalating paranoia begins to open a hole into a mad hatter’s wonderland (a doped-up Joseph’s dog has been missing for a week, but now he thinks people are following him and suspects his ex-girlfriend may be sleeping with the psychiatrist they share). Like Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill double-header (and, to a lesser extent, Nicole Kassell’s The Woodsman), Fabled is the latest entry in an emerging genre of film that evokes the postmodern endeavors of mix CDs like DJ Shadow’s Entroducing…. From John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness to Björk’s “Possibly Maybe,” Entroducing… doesn’t just mix shit up though—it charts an awesome musical march along a historical line, from yesterday’s analog to today’s medulla-produced electronica, and every listen reveals new backstories and subtexts. While the audio-visual cacophony created by Fabled’s F/X flashes, awesome Jack Lingo/Simple Simon soundtrack, and constant flurry of sound effects, pomo references, and dry sarcasms (“Were they Heffalumps or Woozles?” asks Alex to the fabled Joseph) is fun and successfully mirrors the lead character’s fractured state of mind (Joseph gets to even scratch a few tunes on his turntable in a number of scenes), it doesn’t demand much from its audience. Unlike a truly great paranoid thriller like Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder, Fabled not only lacks contemporary and spiritual resonance but a satisfying closer. Nonetheless, Ari Kirschenbaum’s groovy direction ensures it’s still good for one spin.

 Cast: Desmond Askew, Katheryn Winnick, J. Richey Nash, Michael Panes, Coleen Sexon, Deven May, Theo Hausen, Doug Wert, Della Askew  Director: Ari Kirschenbaum  Screenwriter: Ari Kirschenbaum  Distributor: Indican Pictures  Running Time: 84 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2002  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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