Up and Down -- Film Review
American Film Market
Tod Huntington, Julin, Brittney Karbowski, Philip Hays
File "Up and Down" under the Department of Bad Ideas. Nearly the entire film takes place in the elevators of a luxury hotel as it traces the up-and-down life of an aging elevator boy.
Maybe a young Jean-Luc Godard could make that work. But the writing/directing/producing/DP/editing/composing team of Jonathan Carbonaro and Johnette Duff do not. Not even close. Five minutes into the film, you'll vow to take the stairs for the rest of your life.
Will (Tod Huntington) claims to be the Spencer Hotel's assistant event coordinator. But since all he ever does is push buttons to take guests, employees, wedding parties and the like up and down in an elevator, that title sounds suspiciously like an exaggeration. Anyway, he's nearing 30 and still struggling to land enough roles as an actor to call acting a career.
He falls madly in love with a beautiful fellow employee (Julin), but she keeps him at arm's distance while she goes out with a two-timing male chauvinist. Another female employee (Brittney Karbowski) is a platonic best friend ever in search for Mr. Right while a dude Will went to elementary school with (Philip Hays) drops by to ... yes, hang out in the elevators. Everyone in this movie seriously needs to get a life.
Director Carbonaro and writer Duff never do anything with their self-imposed limitations. So what is the point of putting an entire movie in elevators other than saving on production costs? Even the visual design is abysmal: flat medium and close shots with bright lighting inside the elevators alternate with slightly wider but no less dull shots in front of the elevators.
A couple of scenes take place in a tiny bedroom. Is it Wills? Does he live in the hotel?
Music runs from guitar for perky scenes, strings for melancholy ones and piano for the mildly romantic.
Huntington and the female cast do manage occasional breakthroughs from this straight-jacket of a movie but not enough.
According to IMDb, the movie was inspired by the hectic elevators at the American Film Market in Santa Monica. Well, it's not the first time someone got a bad idea at AFM.
Venue: American Film Market
Production companies: Potion Pictures in association with Wavehouse Prods.
Cast: Tod Huntington, Julin, Brittney Karbowski, Philip Hays
Director/music/editor: Jonathan Carbonaro
Screenwriter/production designer: Johnette Duff
Producers: Jonathan Carbonaro, Johnette Duff
Director of photography: Jonathan Carbonaro, Michael John Marcinik
Sale: Center Media
No rating, 90 minutes
Sundance: On the Scene