I reviewed James Kicklighter’s excellent short Digital Edition, about a newspaper making the jump to digital content, a while back and he was kind enough to send over his latest short film, Angel of Anywhere. This short has an interesting backstory as newcomer Axel Roldos, hungry to get some exposure as an actor, got himself a VIP pass to The Atlanta Film Festival in hopes of networking his way into a project. He came across an initially hesitant Kicklighter, but the two hit it off to make this resulting short. Another interesting connection comes from the writers of the short, Casey Nelson and Kate Murdoch, who wrote and starred in a fantastic indie called The Last Treasure Hunt, which I also happened to review for the site last year. I had been interested in what these filmmakers would do next and they made sure not to disappoint with Angel of Anywhere.
Angel is a story about a popular male stripper (Roldos as Angel) at the divey Anywhere Bar. Angel is one of those people that seems to have all the answers, a fixer, who seems to be content in a world where no one is satisfied. He spends his nights dancing for singles and acting as a pseudo-therapist/handyman to his patrons and co-workers. People unload their burdens on him as they seek refuge from their daily lives and he tries his best to help them and keep his livelihood from falling apart. While he obviously has a bit of a magic touch, he learns that he can’t fix or save everything. I also think the short raises the question of if he’s really helping anyone, or if he’s just a blank vessel people can plug their sorrows into to hear what they already know, perhaps just needing to hear someone else say it.
Though the short is only about 15 minutes long, it’s a perfect example of concept, structure, and execution. Kicklighter’s camera makes wonderful use of the loud and colorful club setting, particularly in an opening shot of Angel making his way through the back of the club, following him from behind until he makes his way out on stage, swinging around to see his chiseled face eclipse the burning lights behind him. The writing is strong and realistic, feeling like conversations that have happened in every strip club across the country on any given night of the week and the actors bring a surprising amount of depth to them. I’ve been asked (and rightfully so) to avoid talking about the ending, but it’s one of several examples of a perfect balance of structure the film has. From the malfunctioning lightbulb behind the club to the way Angel’s private room dances go, everything compliments the rest of the film in an extremely satisfying way.
Roldos got his wish in finding an avenue to showcase his talents, he just happened to get extremely lucky in being backed by an incredibly talented cast, director, and writers. I also got my wish to see where some very intriguing new talent is heading and I hope they keep sending their projects my way, because I continue to be impressed. Angel of Anywhere will be debuting online and at festivals this fall and I highly recommend checking it out.