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(The 2019 Slamdance Film Festival takes place January 25-31 in Park City Utah. Hammer to Nail guarantees more reviews from the fest than any other website around. That alone is worth $1.00 per month to help keep us going!) 

Saad Qureshi explores the impact of appreciating the unexpected friendships and the small day-to-day moments that occur amidst our lowest of lows in his off-kilter, experimental film, A Great Lamp.

Set in a small riverside town in North Carolina, A Great Lamp follows two sad vandals and an unemployed loner as they await the public launch of a mysterious rocket. Until the launch, our two vandals, played by Max Wilde and Spencer Bang, and our loner, played by Steven Maier, walk around town, doing whatever they can to avoid the real troubles that are weighing heavily on their minds.

A Great Lamp never attempts to fully utilize the typical expectations of the experimental subgenre of the film medium to tell an immersive and eye-opening tale of loss and reconciliation. Saad Qureshi wants to imbue his film with a gaggle of various art styles that will strengthen its thematic quandaries. The live action footage shares its screen time with rough pencil sketch animation and occasional cuts to still photographs of the film’s protagonists at joyously weird moments. These two art styles are pleasing to watch on their own, but the question regarding Qureshi’s purpose for them remains to be answered.

Our principle actors in A Great Lamp give genuine and at times heartbreaking performances. When the film continues to be an overly casual and frustrating experience to sit through, Wilde, Bang, and Maier manage to grab the film’s story by the wheel and steer it down fleeting moments that peel away the layers of their characters and reveal relatable situations of death, loneliness, and guilt.

I believe this is what Qureshi wanted to share with his audience. These moments of quirky animation, unbridled improvisation, and still photography communicate in mere minutes the direction the film had always intended to go down. It’s only a shame A Great Lamp toys with its restraint of substance for too long, leaving the desire to connect with its character to waste away into nothing.

– Patrick Howard (@PatHoward1972)

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