All My Friends Are Funeral Singers -- Film Review



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PARK CITY -- More an indie-rock art project than a feature, "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers" will be of interest to fans of the band Califone and very few others. Commercial prospects are nil beyond DVDs marketed directly to fans.

Set in an old house inhabited by wayward spirits, the plot concerns a psychic (Angela Bettis) who inherited the job from her grandmother. When they're not wandering downstairs to help her commune with the dead or pick the day's racehorses, the ghosts sit upstairs and complain about being trapped in limbo.

Viewers may feel a bit stuck as well: The script and direction by Tim Rutili is aimless in the manner of a film-school project whose deeper meanings resonate mostly for the filmmaker alone; though things eventually move toward a conventional "let go of the past" theme, Bettis' character isn't well defined enough for us to care much if she gets on with things.

The pic's most interesting moments aren't narrative ones: The members of Califone, dressed like the house's other ghosts, inhabit an upstairs room and provide an enjoyable soundtrack full of improvised percussion and plinked-out mbira melodies. Offscreen, the group sometimes stages concerts to accompany silent films, and filmmaker/bandmember Rutili could edit together some good concert-backdrop material from the more experimental moments in "All My Friends."

Venue: Sundance Film Festival
Production company: Indiepix
Cast: Angela Bettis, Molly Wade, Emily Candini, Reid Coker, George McAuliffe, Alan Scalpone
Director: Tim Rutili
Screenwriters: Tim Rutili
Executive producers: Glen Sherman, Zach Robbins
Director of photography: Darryl Miller
Production designer: Joseph Bristol
Music: Califone
Editor: Kevin Ford
No MPAA rating, 84 minutes