Director: Aaron Katz
After making a mess of his life in Chicago, Doug, a former forensic science major and avid reader of detective fiction, returns to his hometown of Portland, Oregon where he, his sister Gail and new friend Carlos become embroiled in a mystery.
Aaron Katz was born in Portland, OR and studied film at the North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduating, he and two friends drove a ’63 Chevy Nova to Portland to make his first feature, DANCE PARTY, USA. His second feature, QUIET CITY, premiered at SXSW 2007 and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. Currently Aaron lives in Pittsburgh.
WHO’S IT FOR? I haven’t seen any other Katz’s other films, so I can’t compare. Are you looking for an ordinary joe who becomes an detective? Then this is … almost, for you.
I’ll give Katz this, he can suck you into a story. Unfortunately it’s just not the story you expected he would tell. Doug is content on working in an ice factory. Unless a mystery is lurking.
One of the best things about this slow burn of a beginning is the way Katz knows the usual way things are done, and he puts a little twist on it. You know how most films have characters say, “No, I can’t go, you won’t convince me.” Then it just cuts to the next scene and they’ve gone where the character said he wouldn’t. Katz puts the necessary extra lines of dialogue in those moments.
Then, we’re in a Sherlock Holmes-referenced mystery. Katz gave us the time to understand these are just ordinary people in over their head. Once the mystery starts, he doesn’t keep his foot on the pedal. And he should have. It was starting to be a great ride. But then the trouble comes. It’s an abrupt ending, which can only mean the mystery wasn’t the story Katz wanted to tell. He wanted to show a brother and sister getting along. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly as exciting. Portland? Yeah it looks dreary. Sometimes beautiful.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10