Wednesday, November 25

SoFlo: Targeted II (3#) -

This is a followup to my previous
entry about the documentary movie

Miami Noir: The Arthur E Teele Story (2008).

There are just a few points about this movie that I want to briefly address here. First, I think the title was an unfortunate choice because it leads to confusion with the popular Akashic series of books. If that isn't a problem for you, maybe you're illiterate.

The story as it was presented in the film had a structural flaw from my perspective. A character who functioned as a pivotal deus ex machina was not satisfactorily resolved.

If you still believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, maybe this doesn't seem like a legitimate issue to you, but midway through the developing situation, a strange character mysteriously enters the mise en scene from out of nowhere and "gifts" us with gratuitous but incendiary information: Frederick "Mercedes" Davis, a transvestite (or transsexual) prostitute with a putative criminal record - OMG, literally, a real fairy! If you still believe in fairies. This character becomes the pivot around which this situation turns to become fatal.

But at the end of the movie, which has been made several years after these events, there is no epilogue to this character. The lack of followup - several years later! - raises some compelling questions, if only out of natural curiosity.

Whatever happened to Frederick "Mercedes" Davis? Is he still alive or has he died in the interim? If he is still alive, is he living as a man or a woman? How does he earn a livelihood these days? Has he had any further encounters with the Law in the interim? Did he get a better deal as a result of volunteering this material?

Who put him up to this stunt? And how much was he paid to do it? These two questions are not unreasonable, since this is the functional definition of prostitute - they do what you pay them to do. It's in their job description.

The apparent oversight to follow up on this pivotal character, I attribute to the relative immaturity of the filmmakers. Miami isn't called The Magic City for nothing. Clearly, no one here wants to open this can of worms again and reconsider any of it; they'd much rather leave it, umm, magical.

So, everyone in this story is a star in his or her own movie. But Michael Lacy has become a perpetual bete noir in my personal movie. Who else would publish unsubstantiated gossip from an ephemeral street character, especially, while knowing full well that it almost certainly will destroy a man's family and entire personal life?

Was this a Noir type story or treatment? If you associate Noir with a particular cinematic style like Expressionist or with a pastiche of techniques and motifs used in a group of period films, probably not. The presentation used fresh and contemporary cinematic techniques; this was not a major sticking point for me.

But was it a Noir type story? That would make a good topic for a lively debate at some kaffeeklatsch, which probably won't happen, due to increasing illiteracy across much of South Florida. You could compare this story to LA Confidential, but the difference between Real Life and Art is like the difference between Kim Philby and Harry Lime.

Was Teele a crook? I don't know, but if he was, he should have been prosecuted and sent to jail, not publicly lynched. What happened to Teele is the kind of thing we expect in corrupt Third World banana republics: he was denied due process.

I watched the movie again late last night, although I regret that I missed the opening by a few minutes. For the record, it was broadcast on Channel 2.1, not 2.2. I hope they rebroadcast it as a summer rerun; if they do, I'd try to catch it again. I fear the two kids who made this film are going to end up just shooting TV commercials.