|A scene from Tchoupitoulas.|
By Don Simpson
Bill and Turner Ross’ Tchoupitoulas does a tremendous job of defying classification. It functions as both a surreal documentary that borrows from narrative storytelling techniques and a narrative film that paints a realistic portrait of its protagonists by utilizing documentary devices. The narrative unfolds like an improvised jazz album with various tangents that flow seamlessly away from and towards the forward-moving primary thread. The tempo continuously alternates as well as the sublime, impressionistic cinematography alternates between running, walking and pausing. We are fully immersed into the surrounding environment from the perspective of three young brothers as they embark upon an adventure deep into the heart of New Orleans.
Tchoupitoulas feels like a fairy tale as the three boys enjoy absolute freedom without any parental supervision, experiencing firsthand the entrancing New Orleans nightlife — something that is typically limited to adults. Every sequence brings new emotions, ranging from ecstasy and joy to fear and sadness. When the new day rises, the magical cinematic sedation quickly wears off. We are awoken from the meditative dream-state and the story ends, yet the entire cinematic experience is left lingering in our subconscious like a fading childhood memory.
No one makes films like the Ross brothers -- at least not anymore -- and Tchoupitoulas is no exception. A cerebral experience like none other, Tchoupitoulas is certainly going to be one of my favorite films of 2012.