Screening Room: 5 - Dugas' & Spooner's DUST / by Samuel B. Prime

(Full disclosure: my cousin, Shannon Michalski, has a small supporting role in DUST.)

Adam Dugas is a NYC-based multi-hyphenate artist who, like myself, graduated from Northwestern University. He works in video, music, cabaret, and has made at least two short subject works with Chloë Sevigny (swoon!). Casey Spooner is a similarly NYC-based renaissance man best-known in the music world as the latter half of electroclash duo (and now a full-on troupe of musical raconteurs) Fischerspooner (alongside Warren Fischer). Together, they made their first narrative feature, one that recalls the gutter-wit & $1.99 wisdom of John Waters.

DUST is an ensemble piece about family, dysfunction, and one seriously dysfunctional family. Three siblings, Lynn (Jaimie Warren), Baker (Cody Critcheloe, who also contributes to the soundtrack), and Margaret Marie (Peggy Noland, also an associate producer) all live in the same household - although each absent-mindedly dreams of a brighter or more legitimate future for themselves, each seems in their own way unable to attain it. Lynn wants to own and operate her own hotel some day, but is stuck in a feedback loop of looking at pretty pictures (what she calls "studying") and playing pretend. Baker is a basement-dwelling mega-slacker with an asymmetrical haircut who can't hold down his dishwashing job because, well, drugs. Margaret Marie initially seems like the levelheaded lesbian of the bunch, but is embroiled in a complicated relationship with a married woman about which she has no real understanding. These toddling grown-ups get sent for a tailspin when their big brother, Coke (Adam Dugas), announces that he, his wife, and baby-to-be are moving back into the house.

To my mind, DUST is the sort of feature that should ideally be running endlessly on repeat above urinals and on the back doors of bathroom stalls as a refuge from some toxic, no doubt neon-drenched East Berlin nightclub. I mean this, of course, as the highest possible and most sincere compliment. It is also the sort of feature where a cutaway two-shot crotch-level close-up (between Margaret Marie and her dyke-in-disguise part-time lover) tells you everything you need to know about the characters' relationship to one another. There is a lovably crass, yet simple, satisfying elegance to visually conveying something so dense with emotional complexity - especially in a first film. It is the mark of an artist - or, more specifically, a filmmaker. In this case, two damn fine filmmakers.

In the absence of an available East Berlin nightclub, having Dugas' & Spooner's DUST on LA Ciné Salon will do.

DUST is available to watch on LA Ciné Salon from now until July 6th, 2014 at 10:00 PM (Pac). 

If you missed the 7-day run or just want to support the filmmakers, DUST is available to purchase here.

- Samuel B. Prime

Founder, LA Ciné Salon