Digital technology has changed the worlds of film distribution and film production, but there’s always one constant: in Chicago, every third feature that sees the light of day must have a gangster, or a confused foreigner, and the filmmakers must think that gangsters are a hoot and stupid. Technology changes nothing! Boris Wexler’s imperturbably awful “Roundabout American” starts wrong in the first note of its score, with dreadful, cheap-sounding accordion and xylophone music accompanying crude silhouette animation. A young Frenchman trades cultural stereotypes with a twice-life-size Ron Jeremy lookalike in a tie-dyed muumuu of a T-shirt, leading him to drunken nights and a female escort service run out of a pizza delivery business. Dreadful music also accompanies touristic montage of characters banging around the Bean and the Chicago River downtown, a gentle good thing for keeping the dialogue down.It’s eighty-five minutes of high-achieving vulgarity, failing to make the cases for “sight” “gags” of overweight men in tighty-whities brandishing voluminous man-jubbies at the camera. The cinematography is as homely as oil pooling on the pavement in front of a rundown gas station. With Édouard Giard, Marielle de Rocca-Serra. 85m. HDCAM video. (Ray Pride)
“Roundabout American” plays Saturday and Wednesday at Siskel. Wexler, producer Julian Grant, and actors Torey Adkins and Patrick Zielinski will appear.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.