Best Local Films: Murphy’s Law

posted by Jason Lynn Mitchell

Murphy’s Law (2007)


I suppose I should start out with some kind of disclosure.  In the interest of maintaining the journalistic integrity of myself and Switchblade Comb, let it be known that the number of people in the Twin Cities who are involved in filmmaking is small, and many of them may, in fact, know each other.  I appreciate the fact that personally knowing someone may color your opinion of their work and that all critical reviews are based on mathematical equations and uncompromising science.

So while my personal opinion of work produced by people I may have met is clearly meaningless and void, I still plan on sharing it rather than only writing about things made by strangers.  Todd Pitman, the director of Murphy’s Law, writes for Switchblade Comb.  I have never met him.  I have met Dan Schneidkraut, the director of my last Best Local Films post.  I may eventually write about films that I have even been involved in making.  I don’t believe that a blog covering local media should be required to be disconnected from the people involved.  I’m pretty sure Roger Ebert has met some filmmakers before.  I also am not aware of many people writing about these movies.

Murphy’s Law is a documentary about a band going on a tour.  It’s a pretty established genre of documentary, but this is the kind of movie that couldn’t have been made ten years ago.

The film is about now-defunct Minneapolis band Look Down.  I feel like it’s more interesting watching the film now, knowing that the band is no longer together.  It’s possibly more interesting if you’ve never heard of the band.  I hadn’t before seeing the film.  The band embarks on a small tour.  They start by playing a kickoff show in Minneapolis, in a basement.  Things don’t go smoothly.  The van has problems.  Shows are canceled.  New shows are added, in the wrong direction.

The film goes out of its way to prove how much of a disaster the tour was, but I never get the impression that the guys in the band are doing anything but having the time of their lives.  They are never in control of their situation, but their band is on tour.

For all of the backlash against no-budget filmmaking, this is the kind of film that can only be made without a budget.  The technology was finally at a level that a cheap camera and editing software could produce a film of legitimate quality, and the lack of heavy financial investment means the events aren’t much affected by the presence of the filmmaker.  A band operating at this level couldn’t possibly have afforded to have a tour documentary made about them before.  A band working with more resources would only produce the kind of mythologizing propaganda we’re all used to seeing.

I like knowing that Look Down is no longer a band, because it means the motive of this film is not about showing the humble start of a future success.  This isn’t the fantasy of the climb from the basement to the national spotlight.  This is a bunch of guys getting in a van to play their music because that’s what they love to do, and it’s not rewarded with greater things.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another movie show that kind of reality.

You can watch Murphy’s Law online or download it for free on the film’s website.  You can also buy a DVD for only $5 if you are into the idea of people getting paid for their work.


Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 10:59 am