“Wait a minute, is Bill Gates dead?” barks my husband as I watch a faux-documentary chronicling the search for facts in a pretend Gates assassination, replete with repeating footage of his shooting. I’m about halfway through and, for a moment, I’m unsure. Maybe that’s the goal of the Florida indies who created Nothing So Strange.
The cool thing about this flick is it plays with your mind. It’s not a romping adventure or glamorous or sexy. But like any great cinema, Nothing So Strange creates a parallel world so real you live in it for 90 minutes. The acting is of such high quality, so seamless, you easily believe you are watching a roughly hewn documentary that follows a group of conspiracy theorists who think the Los Angeles Police Department is lying about the facts in the Gates assassination, and that the media and public too easily believed that a dead black socialist man looking for a class war is the killer. In fact, as my husband left his work project to come check out this bizarre pretend crime/media drama, we found ourselves completely wrapped up in the case.
“So, what stairway did the cops say Hidell used?” my husband asks. I give him a detailed rundown, complete with the alternate movement of the cops and the supposed and real killers within the hotel crime scene.
But the real drama involves a dead-on portrayal of an activist group. In this case, it’s “Citizens for Change,” a grassroots network of people so unprofessional they sabotage themselves. They hold the truth in their hands, one that leaves blood and blundering on the hands of the cops, but will anyone listen? The group’s got video of an alternate shooter and proof of cop intimidation of witnesses (see, I’m talking about this like it happened). But the leader — a real loser — is so hungry for a fight he loses track of the group’s goals and opts instead for disrupting police commission meetings and the like, and the human drama is humorous in its believability.
Nothing So Strange is a fascinating academic exercise, and has gotten some rave reviews as it makes the rounds in the independent film festival network. It reminds us of the power of television. Crimes occur so many times not in our lives, but on the TV. We ride along, listening to newscasters and pundits state the “facts” and the “meanings.” But we’ve no physical proof. We have faith they are presenting reality. As quoted at the film’s onset, nothing is so strange as the truth. The real question is, what is the truth?
Nothing So Strange opens exclusively at the historic Roseville Theatre on Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. For more show times and directions, call 586-445-7810 or visit www.rosevilletheatre.com. Visit the film’s Web site at www.nothingsostrange.com.
Lisa M. Collins is the arts editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].