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THE ORSON Welles's latest publicity flyer calls Sky Pirate "a picture of the highest quality, and one which represents the promise of the New Narrative Cinema in America." Now, I'd be hard put to find any way to call Andrew Meyer's latest movie a promising narrative. Its characters are derivative of the New York types that keep surfacing in George Kuchar's low-budget productions, which at least have such fetching titles as Hold Me While I'm Naked, though as a title Sky Pirate isn't so bad either. But every other aspect of the film is. There is no plot. There are no events. There is, however, dialogue that saturates five-minute scenes without developing the characters or even making half-decent jokes.
The film is, moreover, shot without intelligence. Its longer scenes are in one-and two-minute takes which, without any sense of dynamic blocking, are the most anti-dramatic way going of shooting a scene for a fiction film. In his faster-cut sections Meyer displays the irritatingly consistent habit of going for the easy payoffs in each situation-images of pinball machines, strange models of beasts, and a large Buddha in a game gallery. Even classy settings like the Pan Am terminal at Kennedy fail to give Meyer's compositions anything you'd want to call style.
You can only make so many films without ideas before people stop excusing them as narrative or, indeed, as low-budget productions. That Sky Pirate cost only 12 grand is no excuse. There is no reason why films shot for that kind of money can't be as good in every technical respect, and vastly superior in ideas, to your favorite Hollywood production. There's a cause for their inferiority-lack of planning and lack of technical ability-but it's hardly insurmountable.
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