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Dash cams, for the most part, seem to be used for two purposes: as tools to give authorities a visual record of incidents such as accidents and confrontations, and as toys for knuckleheads hoping to film something crazy enough to get their footage on Tosh.0.
The Road Movie is devoted to the latter. Exclusively comprising video and audio from dash cams in Russia, Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s film segues from one clip to the next, outside commentary unnecessary—most of the time. The bulk of the material is of car wrecks. But every once in a while there’s a clip that’s confounding, usually involving law enforcement or guys who look an awful lot like law enforcement. Action takes place quickly, making it difficult to orient yourself. Watching these, if you give up on trying to figure out what’s what, quickly becomes boring, and captured audio such as “Fuck. Why are there such assholes?” doesn’t do much to help. (One thing that is obvious, however, is that nearly every owner of the dash cams included here has a love of f-bombs.)
The car crashes, often sensational, will quicken your pulse and make you wish Kalashnikov included slow-motion replays. But even they stay gasp-inducing for only so long. The director first presents leisurely footage of wrecks along with the dash-cam witnesses’ comments in the aftermath, but later he’ll do a montage, and still later return to the post-crash commentaries. Jack-knifing semis and rolling cars all look the same after a while, and serious accidents—eliciting witness questions such as “Are they alive?”—will appeal to only the more gore-seeking rubberneckers out there.
The film also offers scenes of road rage, spectacular wildfires, a pointless police chase, a duck hitting a windshield, and random weirdness throughout its clearly padded 67 minutes. Whereas dash cams are regulated if not outright forbidden in the U.S., it’s said that nearly every driver in Russia has one. What’s the allure? If you’ve ever gaped at something gone horribly wrong, you know the most fundamental answer; many of these ‘cammers stay at the scene much longer than they have to, repeating the same words of astonishment as a passenger invariably begs them to go.
Derelict law enforcement and slack handling of collision cases are allegedly bigger reasons for mounting the cameras. There’s no question, however, that filmgoers who put cash down for The Road Movie will be motivated by the former. And it’s likely that they themselves will eventually be saying, “Fuck. Why are there such assholes?”
The Road Movie opens Friday at West End Cinema.