FILM / Ennui: portrait of a serial killer

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The Independent Culture
IN an interview for an organ called Bomb Magazine, the independent American film-maker Amos Poe tells how he came to make Triple Bogey on a Par 5 Hole. He had been working late, researching a Hollywood film script on vogueing. 'At one point,' he says, 'I told the voguers I had to go home. They wanted to know why. To their minds it was still early. I told them I had to relieve the babysitter, get her out of there and pay her. They were mystified . . . ' It was then, Poe recalls that it dawned on him that he should be doing something closer to his life.

It sounds like the quintessential case of a hipster run to middle-aged fat. Poe was once best-known as a documentarian of New York's downtown subcultures (the titles of his films speak for themselves: The Blank Generation, Subway Riders, Alphabet City). After a long excursion into rock videos and studio screenplays, Triple Bogey marks his return to low-budget cinema - and a quantum leap from grunge to glamour. The cool, exquisitely self-absorbed modishness that marked his early work has ossified into conspicuous consumption.

The story concerns a (fictional) cause celebre of the Seventies in which a middle-class couple who, for reasons never quite explained, take to robbing wealthy players on golf courses (whence the film's title). One day they are killed in the act, leaving three crazy mixed-up offspring to survive them.

Some dozen years later, these poor little rich kids are discovered circumnavigating New York City on their yacht, Triple Bogey, sipping champagne and picking at each other's emotional sores. These black-and-white, fashion-plate scenes are intercut with wobbly Super-8 colour footage of them just before their parents' death (they're played by Poe's own children and you have the suspicion that Triple Bogey is the pretext for a pretentious home movie). The city glistens in the distance, but the main characters barely set a toe on terra firma. The film's too busy being post-modern to say anything about modern America.

The framing story concerns a Hollywood screenwriter researching their story, which soon collapses under the weight of contradictory information. 'There's no story here,' he concludes. 'These are not people.' Triple Bogey, a good-looking, hollow-hearted film, is strictly for the birdies.

Could that blurry, out-of-focus object bobbing around in the opening shot of Annabelle Partagee (18) be an erect penis discharging its freight? It could, though the press show audience found the spectacle less erotic than irresistibly ridiculous. After this premature climax, the film deflates into a limp piece on big city boredom. Annabelle mopes around Paris, vacillating between her two lovers, an architect twice her age who is prone to peculiar, portentous dreams, and Luca, who is young and handsome but fails to please for obscure reasons. It all looks like one of those old-fangled 'continental movies' of the Sixties which proffered naughty pleasures under the guise of art - except that here the sex is very interruptus and, like the story as a whole, deliberately flat. Both it, and Triple Bogey, demonstrate yet again the difficulty of turning ennui into compulsive cinema.

(Photograph omitted)