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PUBLIC ACCESS

USA, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Youth Film Festival)

Director: Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer's debut feature (a controversial Co-winner Grand Jury Prize 1993 Sundance Film Festival) is an edgy tale of the seething morass lurking beneath seamless surfaces, whether they be of small-town American values, the myopic media, or handsome flesh.

Mysterious stranger, Whiley Pritcher, walks into Brewster - a typical town engulfed in mid-west malaise - and onto the small screen in the hearthland of its inhabitants, when he buys himself some time on local cable TV. 'Our Town', his seemingly innocuous talk back show, poses the simple question, "What's wrong with Brewster?", thereby unleashing a cavalcade of caustic cliches that very quickly turn real nasty, and in turn make him a force to be reckoned with. But when the body count starts topping his ratings we know something is not quite right. Wearing his goodlooks and sincerity like an overtight suit of amour, the polite and smiling Pritcher (disconcertingly creepy Ron Marqette) is a steely cold cipher onto which the townsfolk (and the audience) can ascribe any attributes. But is he more than one can imagine?

With a tone reminiscent of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, this stylishly honed and obsessive thriller also sports a sinister underbelly that owes much to the inversion of the Western 'man with no name' genre. But ultimately Public Access is a disturbing critique of the potential evil of an intensely individualistic and media orientated society that demands the 'all American way' be good, bad, even murderous, but rarely, if ever, ugly.

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