As a Missourian fully aware of my state’s rivalry with Kansas, I knew I would be taking a risk in making the trek across the border to see the special screening of Air, the first full-length feature of Chris Blunk and Jeremy Osbern. Air is a film set in Kansas, starring Kansans and even written and produced by Kansans. With this screening, I would risk having to admit that Kansas is actually kind of cool.
A musical is a rather daunting task for a first film, but Blunk and Osbern pulled it off perfectly. Through their artistic vision displayed in their innovative camera angles combined with the simple, but beautiful score, Blunk and Osbern told a refreshing tale. Air mainly focuses on the story of six people who feel lost , as if they are nothing more than a spirit floating in the air, but as their paths cross and each person finds love, they finally feel alive and part of the world.
The music present in the film covers several different styles from country to rock to classical. Early in the movie, much of the music is acoustic and percussive, but as the film progresses and the characters find themselves, they also find their musical style.
One character whom best epitomizes the idea of finding yourself in music is the rocker Donnie, played by Dylan Hilpman. Donnie, although a songwriter, is unable to write a love song for his girl, much to her displeasure. She leaves him and Donnie finds himself in a dreamlike state conducting an orchestra in a very romantic classical piece, but he has still to find his love rock song. Later he finds himself singing in the middle of a rock concert a do-bop song that would belong in a 50s dance. When he finally figures things out by the end of the film, he writes the love song that his girl has been waiting for and the song that is true to his character’s style.
Donnie’s song at the concert is the strongest song in the film. While local KC rockers, the Architects, are performing to an ecstatic crowd, Donnie belts his broken love song, “I’m living in two worlds / Because without you, / Everything’s breaking in two / I’m lost in the crowd.” This number is worth checking out for the cool chaos of the crowd shots, the cameo by the Architects and the catchy and moving song.
This film does a great job of endearing the characters to the audience and it shows that first impressions aren’t always accurate. Take Ian Stark’s character of Dan. Stark’s portrayal of Dan subtly turns the character’s awkwardness into a charming trait. Dan is a guy bored with the world and bored with life, but he meets a girl that awakens a sweet curiosity about her and motivates him to begin living. Like so many of the characters of the film, Dan was part of the living dead until he found love that could bring him to life. Just watch Stark’s facial expressions and you can see him come to life as he develops a little smile as the film progresses.
We can all probably see a little bit of ourselves represented in the awkwardness of these romances, the passion of these songs and the chaos in the world around the characters. There are so many details to pay attention to that this is something you’ll find yourself wanting to watch again and again.
This is a film sure to garner a lot of attention as the creators take it on a festival run in the coming months, so here’s your chance to be one of those, “I knew that film/song back when” people and check out Air, the little indie musical that will have you dancing in the streets of Kansas City.