November, another postmodern pastiche of Ambrose Bierce by way of David Lynch, finds Courtney Cox exorcising Friends by playing a woman who's cracking up after a shooting incident in a convenience store. Debilitating headaches, photographs that cease to behave, and two feckless boyfriends (one played by James Le Gros, the other played by Michael Ealy) do nothing to make Cox's photography instructor feel better. Writer-director Greg Harrison (who also made the zestier Groove) shot fast on digital; Nancy Schreiber won Sundance's "Excellence in Cinematography" Award for her occasionally jolting, mostly dim digital murk.
Photography is the principal metaphor, as in Blows Up and Out; Cox tells her students that "things outside the frame matter," and it's all a matter of perspective and "spatial distortion." Harrison finesses a bit of nice character detail in economical dialogues and flashes some freaky images, like blood on a light bulb, but the real mystery is whether November will have a point or not. Clue: a New Times headline reading "Is Modernism Dead?"
I'm predisposed to hate any movie billed as "an homage to the mindbending thrillers of David Lynch" (as the San Francisco Film Festival described November). Lynch's purity of vision has remained inimitable despite frequent efforts by lesser filmmakers. Plus, the story told here has by now been utterly exhausted, not only by Lynch, but Adrian Lyne, David Fincher, and the rest of the grotty/glossy filmmakers here and abroad. Maybe you'll be more charitable to November, which telegraphs its unsatisfying payoff for miles, has no fun getting there, but at least boasts a running time of 73 minutes, padded by a hilariously slow credit crawl.