American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I have received a good deal of mail from readers concerned that movies like "Pulp Fiction" will inspire young viewers to shoot one another. I don't believe movies are that influential, but if they are, then I hope that potential drifting aimless alienated teenage killers will make it a point to catch "Jon Jost's Frameup," which will show them just how banal the whole business is.
Here is a movie like "Badlands," "Guncrazy" or "Natural Born Killers," but deliberately drained of energy. Instead of romanticizing his young killers on the road, Jost displays them as boring, stupid airheads.
The movie tells the story of an ex-con named Ricky Lee and a waitress named Beth Ann whom he picks up with three words of smooth talk ("Dump the job"). She walks out of the diner where she works, and that night, in her words, they "make like bunnies" in a cheap motel room before hitting the road in a stolen pickup truck.
(Her first notion that life will not be easy comes as she asks, "What happened to your red Camaro?") Beth Ann, played by Nancy Carlin, talks like a zombie with an annoying, whiny, high-pitched monotone. She says things like, "The school counselor convinced me it didn't make sense to kill myself just yet." She remembers that she dated a high school football hero for "six months and 12 days," until he dumped her for a girl with bigger breasts. She likes sex because it is all she knows.