‘Modern Man’


In its first of 27 inexplicable parts, a dead- pan twentysomething (Eric Becker) skims leaves from the backyard pool of a posh L.A. estate. Things get even livelier as he sweeps the tennis court, changes lightbulbs, barbecues a leaf (then eats it), and rearranges lawn turtles. Does this guy live here? Is he the maintenance guy? Are we witnessing the throes of mental illness or just monumental boredom? If only there were a second character or a single line of dialogue to hint at the purpose of director Justin Swibel’s so-billed “abstract drama about the search for meaning”—as if a film-school professor would ever fall for that line of crap. Swibel can’t keep his HD camera still enough to find poetry in this profound hunk of nothingness, his observational in-and-out zooms as meandering as co-writer Becker’s on-screen attention span. Is this an hour-long rumination on the monotony of existence, a spoof on highbrow cinema, or a prank on indie audiences? Ask Godot; he’s probably watering the lawn somewhere nearby.