Screening Room: 4 - Frank V. Ross' TIGER TAIL IN BLUE / by Samuel B. Prime

"If I had been born [in the Dark Ages], [...] I would have been burning witches in a flat world. It's a bad day when you realize that about yourself. [...] But hopefully knowing it is enough to start, right?" - Christopher (F. V. Ross)

Christopher and Melody are a couple in the midst of their first year of marriage. Christopher is a writer by day, but by night serves wine and food to people without discerning tastes. Melody is a teacher who finds herself exhausted with instruction, grading, and parent-teacher meetings. Less by choice than by chance (or maybe necessity), they keep opposing schedules that leave little time for one another. As a result, their interactions are abbreviated, sometimes impersonal, and over time their relationship suffers. But perhaps for the better?

Frank V. RossTIGER TAIL IN BLUE accomplishes something all too terribly rare in today's cinema: the film puts its trust completely with the audience to recognize the poetry inherent within a complex, emotional device. In a gesture that recalls Luis Buñuel's THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977), where two actresses portray the same character from scene-to-scene, a single actress portrays two characters (in this case, Rebecca Spence as both Melody and The Brunette). I may not be the first to make the association with Buñuel, and to point it out may only be a superficial recognition of cinema history, but I mean it as a compliment to Ross as the multi-hyphenate artist responsible for the film. He and Spence deliberately undertake something difficult (and their chutzpah alone is certainly reason enough to celebrate this film). But there are many reasons to celebrate it. 

Spence portrays both wife and co-worker, partner and pal, and the film never addresses whether Ross as Christopher merely imagines himself spending time with his wife, if these work scenes are flashbacks to when they first meet, or a kind of curious parallel between past and present. In short, there are a multitude of ways to read the work scenes - and, importantly, I think that there is no wrong way. What's true for the viewer is true for the filmmaker is true for the film. And as the lines gradually blur between each version of Spence, so too does Ross' proximity, distance, and familiarity to each undergo - sometimes uncomfortable or alarming - changes.

In the above quote, which occurs near the start of the film, Ross/Christopher expresses that he in so many words has discovered that he is not special (or a radical thinker) - among the throng but never of it. What he says next is that "knowing is enough to start," but without clarifying what. To start what exactly? I think to start accepting the value in being a storyteller, while also working towards change - acceptance, but persistence, to one day find himself truly of the throng. TIGER TAIL IN BLUE is the tale of the first steps, always the hardest.

TIGER TAIL IN BLUE is available to watch on LA Ciné Salon from now until June 22nd, 2014 at 10:00 PM (Pac). 

- Samuel B. Prime

Founder, LA Ciné Salon