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Reviews for January 31st, 2013

The Upper Footage

      How would it be most accurate to describe The Upper Footage? On the one hand, it's an edited version of 6-hour footage filmed by Blake Pennington in 2009 as he and Will Erixon, Taylor Greene, Devon Petrovsky and unknown young woman, party hard at a Manhattan apartment after going clubbing together. Throughout the course of the night, they take drugs (cocaine) before the unknown young woman, whose face is pixilated, dies of an accidental drug overdose. Pennington and his friends do everything in their ability to cover-up the incident, but what transpires to them in this footage won't be spoiled here.

      On the other hands, what happened afterward makes everything sounds like something from a Hollywood thriller because all the info about Will Erixon, Taylor Greene, Devon Petrovsky and Blake Pennington were erased online, an extortionist posted the clip of the overdose on Youtube, and soon websites like started to report the story and, not surprisingly, to speculate without hard evidence about the identity of the woman who overdosed. After Entertainment Tonight reported the story in 2011, there was a media blackout, lawsuits commenced and Quentin Tarantino allegedly bought the footage before backing out of the deal. Justin Cole then bought footage which was then edited down to make The Upper Footage.

      Is this story real or is it all merely a hoax to make this film seem real la The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity? That's among the many provocative questions that you'll find yourself asking while watching The Upper Footage. Arguments can be made to buttress both cases, so don't be surprised if you'll spend a lot of time afterward digging for info online to try to solve the mystery.

      If The Upper Footage were indeed a hoax, it's a seemingly effective and persuasive one that involves a savvy internet campaign and "actors" who know how to give natural performances along with the gullible mainstream media playing their end of the game, knowingly or not. Very skeptic viewers, though, might wonder why many turns of events seem rather neat and "convenient," i.e. when a particular bit of footage, which won't be spoiled here, is left on the cutting room floor out of respect for the victim and her family. Perhaps it was omitted by Justin Cole and his crew because filming that kind of scene wasn't part of her contract, and it might have been too expensive to add it to the contract to boot. If it were omitted for that reason, would Justin and his crew admit it? Probably not, which is why you get a totally different explanation about the omission that deceives you into believing that the footage is real instead of a hoax. Why did Pennington continue to film his friends after the woman overdosed? And what about how the camera's crucial footage just happened to have survived after the camera got smashed?

      If it's not a hoax, then it's an indictment of Pennington and his friends all of whom come across as selfish, shallow, inconsiderate and unreliable---all very popular character traits found in modern times. Our corporate-sponsored mainstream media is very easily manipulated with the right amount of legal and financial pressure, so it wouldn't be the first time that rich, powerful individuals used a media blackout, a fascist tactic, to cover up something incriminating nor would it be the last time---after all, America is essentially a corporate empire where the 1% have a lot of power and virtually zero accountability. They, more often than not, value their reputation more than their moral conscience. Perhaps Pennington and his friends are merely victims and not monsters, but what or whom would they be victims of? That's a question that could be explored in a separate documentary, perhaps one that concurrently investigates the truth(s) behind The Upper Footage.

      Regardless of whether or not you believe The Upper Footage is hoax, it still remains an irresistibly entertaining, provocative and bold statement about the corruption, selfishness and amorality of the 1% and how easily they can use their powers to control the mainstream media to cover up their crime(s).

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema (at Midnight).

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