Migrating Forms (2000)


(director/writer/editor/producer: James Fotopoulos; cinematographer: John Wagner; music: Tom Nicholl; cast: Preston Baty (The Man), Rebecca Lewis (The Woman), Kiele Sanchez (Dream Woman), Edward Flynn (Landlord), Mimi Marks (Woman 2), Michelle Ziantanorski (Woman 3); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; Facets Video; 2000)
“An ode to the weird.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

James Fotopoulos’ (“Back Against the Wall”) brilliantly original Migrating Forms, his second feature, is an ode to the weird. Indie films hardly ever get as masterfully minimalist in exploring an active sexual relationship between an uncommunicative couple. It’s a study of modern man’s angst and struggle to overcome his hopeless imprisonment.

Though difficult to watch because of the lack of action, a fixed camera and poor visual quality of the grainy black-and-white film shot in 16 mm, it nevertheless has a way of reaching out to the curious because of its subtle wit and unnerving head trip it takes the viewer on. Contrary to film school techniques, this inventive work flies in the face of convention.

An unnamed bachelor (Preston Baty) living alone with his cat in an almost bare apartment meets regularly with an unnamed woman (Rebecca Lewis) for casual sex. They are both overweight, unappealing, uncommunicative and their sex lacks passion. The woman has an ugly cyst on her backside that grows larger with every visit, which the man pays no attention to. She tries to reach out to him, but he views this as purely a sexual relationship and does not respond. He compliments her once by saying she has a “nice ass.” The cat who watches them have sex seems to have more feelings than the man.

In one scene the landlord comes by to know if he wants an exterminator for the roaches like his downstairs neighbor, but the man tells him there are none. Later on he will find a dead roach in his shower and many dead bugs all over the bathroom.

Things change for the man when he develops a cyst on his shoulder and he is so upset that he asks his woman to leave. Filled with nightmarish images of a dream girl and trying to have sex with other women but unable to, he resumes his sexual relationship with his first partner. One is led to conclude that life is meaningless for the man and he is trapped in a prison-like existence by his own desires.

It won the Best Feature award at the 2000 New York Underground Film Festival.