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mugshot ( director/writer/cinematographer/editor : matt mahurin ; cast : belinda becker ( stella ) , michael williams ( rumor ) , robert knepper ( joe/chris ) , robert walker ( random ) , willie lassic ( young brother of rumor ) , maxine joiner ( rumor's mother ) ; runtime : 87 ; mortal films ; 1995 )
reviewed by dennis schwartz
a bleak indie film about a stolen identity .
there's not much more to this visually stylish film than what meets the eye , as it relies on shock to tell its story of a prolonged vicious mugging .
it falls into the category of being a pretentious art-house film , leaving a bitter taste in one's mouth as it stereotypes its characters and unintentionally further inflames the racial issues .
it tries to make a heavy-handed point about disenfranchised black youths trapped by their environment , with their only way out being crime .
but the story is so filled with violence and its nyc setting looks like hell , that it's hard to enjoy this film and to follow what the logic in the story is supposed to mean .
the relationship between the black mugger and his white victim is a cloudy one , which the film never determines what it wants to say about it .
matt mahurin is virtual one-man crew in putting this film together ( director/writer /cinematographer/editor ) , who is a still photographer in his day job .
the film works best as a visually challenging piece , as each shot looks like a photograph carefully telling the story unfolding .
a white photographer ( robert knepper ) is mugged by a black gang while he's on a freelance assignment to take a photo shoot of harlem at night .
he becomes a victim of amnesia and his head is bloodied as he's left in a deserted harlem building , as the gang leaves him for dead ; but , one of the muggers , rumor ( michael williams ) , comes back and pretends to help him .
he's a would-be photographer , who keeps a scrapbook entitled mugshots in the project apartment he shares with his mother and younger brother .
keeping his victim in the dark about who he is by calling him joe and not telling him what's happening , he becomes the photographer for a few days .
he enters the photographer's stylish greenwich village apartment and steals his expensive camera , and decides to hold the mugging vic for ransom when he finds out he has a black girlfriend , stella ( belinda becker ) .
she's the only one in the film who could act .
the film is stuck with a clumsy dialogue and an overuse of symbolism , as it ends with nothing more to tell after the shock and the violent situation it created except to beat it into the ground .
it could only be commended for how appealing the film looks , as if it's a scrapbook of still photos put together to celebrate a mugging .
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