Ever notice that once you start thinking about something, really questioning or focusing on an idea, it starts cropping up in conversation, in stories you hear or on TV? It seems at times that your universe gets in sync, just a little, and the answers are there to be found - if you are paying attention, that is. This is how things begin when we meet Black Racklin, movie producer and writer, passionately and movingly played by Nat Christian, movie producer
and writer (and director, actor and editor) in his new film, Channels.
Channels, at once a comedy, a fantasy and a love story, is set in the hectic world of Southern California movie making. Racklin has begun to question the passing of time and the pursuit of a magical moment. "I think of grabbing a moment - to catch it. It has no direction, but it does pass." His remote control takes him wandering through the channels, where he keeps finding his philosophical questions echoed on a nighttime soap by a character named Katherine, who "wants to catch a ride to a place called Happiness." Falling asleep on his sofa, he dreams of a passing train with the image of himself waving as it passes him by. Cut to the real world of movie making, and Racklin's story goes quickly from waxing philosophical to the frustrating chaos of on- location filming, complete with his anxious agent, Walter (in a fantastically funny performance by comic John Kassir), and his frustrated director, Niles, played with an urgent earnestness by Taylor Negron. Niles wants only for their film to be filled with "soul and substance" and "magic," which provides a sharp contrast to the hard-edged executive producer of their film-in-progress, in a fine turn from Edward Asner as Packard, whose take on "magic" is "1, 2, 3... and the film makes money." Later, at home with remote control in hand, asking himself aloud what he wants to do, Racklin once again finds Katherine on the television. A rainstorm, a flash of lightning - and Katherine (played with innocence and honesty by Kim Oja) magically comes into his apartment and his life. Boy meets girl in a very funny scene, and Katherine confesses to sharing the same dream of the train. For Racklin she becomes "real" as they fall in love, during the course of one night - all the while questioning what is reality and what is a dream.
Katherine is willing to defy logic and follow the dream with Racklin, but an abrupt meeting with the actress who "plays" Katherine causes the writer to pause, asking time to wait. Racklin compromises, then loses Katherine, and the moment of affirmation passes him by. Can he defy time? Racklin tries to get her back, but has the moment passed?
Christian's symbolism is deliberate, as he portrays the contrast between the magic we might find in life with the harsher reality of our daily existence. This contrast is further played out with tremendous effect through the original score by Rossano Galante. Romantically lyrical music underscoring Racklin's musings cuts to edgy rhythm tracks devoid of melody that accompany the hectic pace of the frustrating process of reality for the filmmaker. The music then becomes wonderfully humorous during the comic scenes, reminding me of one of my favorite filmscore composers, Danny Elfman, and continuously provides a seamless complement to the dialogue and action.
Channels is ultimately an intelligent and thoughtful comedy, with a lot of sweet silliness, sincere intent and laugh-out-loud moments, complete with a captivating story, excellent photography and a fabulous filmscore.
Nat Christian should be rewarded not simply for the feat of writing,producing, directing and acting in a work that explores the magic of moments while acknowledging the reality of a wasted opportunity, but also as a filmmaker with an individual, unique style. He has clearly planted the seeds for a long career as an outstanding force in independent filmmaking.
â¦ Sandy Kashmar Â¡Vamonos! editor, Ruidoso News, NM