Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
When I say that all the plot threads in "Outside Ozona" come together in one closing scene, you can't imagine how literally I mean that. The movie builds up an incredible series of coincidences, in which the good are rewarded, the evil are punished, the lovelorn are thrown into one another's arms, all mysteries are solved, and a homeless dog named "Girl" lives to bark another day.
There was feverish scribbling in the dark, as my colleagues and I tried to keep up with the cascade of developments. An ending like this is either naive or deeply profound. After all the slick formula movies, it's refreshing sometimes to see a film that isn't working from the rule book. Writer-director J.S. Cardone provides clumsy parallels and too many speeches that sound written, but his heart is sound: He's going for something touching and sincere, and some of his scenes get there.
The movie takes place during a long night on the lonely highways outside Ozona, Okla. The local radio DJ (Taj Mahal) calls this area "the badlands," and indeed it's so far from anywhere else that everyone has to listen to the same radio station. In movie theory, much is made of "offscreen space," which is the implied environment outside the frame. Cardone creates an almost palpable sense that the offscreen space is dark, hostile and abandoned to the wolves.
We meet a lot of characters. The movie will cut between their stories. Many of the scenes are conversations in the front seats of cars that are allegedly traversing the lonely badlands highways, but are obviously on darkened sound stages. This is a stylistic decision, not a weakness; it increases focus as the film breaks out into dialogues between the people whose lives we glimpse.