February 25, 2019  (Web Review)

Into the Hinterlands

(2018) 40 min. DVD: $99.95: public libraries; $295: colleges & universities, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $345. The Cinema Guild (www.cinemaguild.com). DRA. PPR. Closed captioned. ISBN: 0-7815-1579-3.

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

The Hinterlands is an experimental performance collective formed in 2009 by Richard Newman and Liza Bielby, headquartered at Play House, an abandoned building in the Detroit neighborhood of Banglatown. Julia Yezbick’s narration-less film makes no attempt to describe the company—or its outreach presentations at various outside venues—but instead simply offers an example of the ensemble’s work, filmed in jerky, hand-held style with an emphasis on extreme close-ups. The performance, presumably characteristic, consists primarily of a man writhing and staggering about in what appears to be some sort of fit while a couple of other figures stumble around in the background. The locale is a dank, depressing, cavern-like room, dimly lit. Undoubtedly this is intended to have some deep existential meaning—the all-embracing pain and meaninglessness of human life, perhaps—but when stretched to some 40 minutes, the agony is mostly felt by the audience. Coming across as a rather obscure vanity project, this is not recommended. Aud: C, P. (F. Swietek)