Film: Sex, Love & Z-Parts

by Jay HOLLEY
 

Sex Love & Z-Parts (The Prequel) is a short film written and directed by Marcus D. Russell and published by Big Hit Productions. The thirty minute prequel introduces a sizable cast of supporting characters and introduces us to Disco and Mitch, two friends who’ve bungled the rigging of a baseball game to the displeasure of a group of gangsters who discuss business while playing Uno in the back room of a pool hall.

Opening sequence: a voice over asks, “how do you tell a man what you’ve done? How do you say I’m sorry?” The camera centers on the spinning wheel of a sports and the titles progress. Movement through the city (presumably Los Angeles) is implied. I notice the picture quality; it looks to be genuine film stock—not DV. The car, a yellow Datsun “Z” breaks down. Its driver (Disco) pushes it to a repair shop and bickers with the owner about monies already past due. So far, so good.

Suddenly: WHOOSH WHOOSH the heavy hand of an editor blares across my living room in living stereo as the scene cuts to card-playing gangsters deciding “how to deal” with a troublemaker. I’m pleasantly reminded of the banter of Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels.

WHOOSH WHOOSH, we see Disco the protagonist struck in the back with a 2 x 4. That was fast.

WHOOSH WHOOSH the camera cuts to Mitch, who we’ll later find is Disco’s best friend, apologizing to a very stylish dream-image of his girlfriend.

WHOOSH WHOOSH we again see Disco bickering with the repair shop owner, “the least you could do / (inexplicable jump cut) / is pay me what you owe me / (inexplicable jump cut).” It’s as if the editing were filtered through a cloud of hashish.

This distracting WHOOSH WHOOSH transition between scenes continues as we follow Disco though a series of amusing misadventures, gradually making his way to the pool hall to confront his Uno-playing financial backers. His friend and co-conspirator Mitch simultaneously makes his way the the pool hall showdown, though his progress through the city is depicted in only in too-short scenes of the “Z” racing through traffic that fail to deliver any sense of urgency. The dynamic between Disco and Mitch will presumably be one of the central elements of the final full-length feature, yet surprisingly it’s barely explored at in the prequel. The prequel finishes with a showdown at the pool hall, a closing voice over, and a closing shot of Mitch and Disco escaping in a speeding Z.

The cinematic quality of Sex, Love & Z-Parts is roughly on par a cop B-Grade Hollywood cop movie from the early 80s, which puts it above the majority of low-budget productions. While much of the acting is stilled, this sin is forgivable given the high cost of the medium - there’s surely an upper limit on takes that can be afford when every inch of film adds to the production cost. The obtrusive editing is not so easily forgiven, and will hopefully be smoothed over in the full length feature.

I wish there were more sex in Sex, Love & Z-Parts (there was none).

I wish there were more love in Sex, Love & Z-Parts (there was little).

I did not see many replacement Datsun Z parts in Sex, Love & Z-Parts (though to be honest, their presence was not greatly missed).

I look forward to the final feature, which will hopefully include more sex and love, less editing, and more of the rowdy fun hinted at in the prequel.

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