We may remember Sadie Benning’s Pixelvision bedroom with alt-film fondness, but look out: There’s a new DIY no-budget sheriff in town. Zachary Oberzan’s Flooding With Love for the Kid is inevitably at one with its concept—to remake First Blood (or, more accurately, adapt David Morrell’s original novel), in a 220-square-foot apartment with one video camera and one lone wild-eyed filmmaker/actor/editor/ designer/soundman. Oberzan’s refrigerator serves as the town diner, his closet is the flashback-to-‘Nam rat pit, his bathtub is a river, his living room (complete with CDs stacked in the old fireplace) is the northwestern woods, with only a few fir branches scattered around suggestively.
It’s a stunt, maybe inspired by Son of Rambow or even Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, but one with escalating resonance. The just-do-it Godardian disregard for realism and movie-movie ardor is a given with these boundaries, but shouldn’t be dismissed. Oberzan fills out more than 20 roles by himself (as well as three police dogs), and scuttles and runs and crawls through his own apartment playing pretend like a grade-schooler, with all of the earnest conviction and passion that implies. The question isn’t whether or not anyone else could have made this film—in a large way, we all did already, as kids. With the familiar pulp narrative playing out (there’s no Stallone involved; Oberzan reimagines every character, often with ridiculous accents), the experience becomes a poignant paean to pre-adolescent imagination and how much cinema owes to it.
The degree to which you can get sucked into Oberzan’s re-enactment is rather astonishing—a pivotal night “chase scene” through the “wilderness” is actually almost thrilling—and you’re reminded yet again how easily, like children, we accept transparent fakery of the worst kind in service of old-fashioned, Edwin S. Porter–style storytelling. It doesn’t matter, finally, that the megaphones are disposable cups and the ham radio is a toaster and the forest animal Oberzan’s Rambo kills, cooks, and eats is a small teddy bear. It’s a deliberately naive piece of work, and even if Oberzan’s performances suggest multiple personality disorder run amok (at one point, using crude double exposure, he looks up his own ass), you can’t say he didn’t mean it. The film might play as a YouTube-y farce for a downtown audience, hard to say, but so far, it’s the best movie of 2010.