Awesomely bad movies come in combinations of three main elements. There’s schlock – the low-brow reveling of explosions, breasts and gore; failure – attempts to cash in on or ape the substance of well regarded films; and myopia – the eccentric, often ego driven and self funded, delusions of a filmmaker. Until yesterday I would have wagered limbs (starting with the left leg of course, for lack of driving purposes) that The Room’s example of myopia was terminal… but then came Fateful Findings…
Neil Breen’s written, directed, produced by and starred in film is so thoroughly detached from reality that it makes Tommy Wiseau our peer, a regular joe six pack… (Can I make a request? Can drinking a six pack a day be a synonym for alcoholism not average? Ok, cool)… a regular Joe one pack on the couch beside us in his chuckles; a thought that should give the man on the Clapham omnibus enough vertigo to head earthward, ca-chunking beneath its wheels. There are things a reasonable man should not be expected to rethink, take Hitler for example (as he most often is). He’s the Kleenex of immorality, an easy X axis we can trace in our sleep, and it helps. If there’s a universal culture it’s not far removed from Hitler hate, and the only thing we’d hate more is to lose it. It’s not that we can’t part from the generic from any inarticulate laziness, like our because because of cusswords, as if our talking heads won’t be able to corner each other without his taboo, or that the world would turn to chaos if I say fetch me a tissue, and you look at me for a dumb moment, what?, and repeating myself with gestures you realize, oh, where I come from we call ‘em Whipe-ups. Tomato, to goulash. No, it’s because you really can question yourself into mute indifference, to the point of anthropophagy pronged on your fork of conjecture. I’m in a book club where every meeting, whether we started from World War II or hot dog vending, invariably we come to the question of Why is murder even wrong? It’s a question that unfortunately takes less casuistry to get into than out of (at least for one of us, Gary!) and without this baseline moral the woven word in a reading of Charlotte’s Web is euthanasia. It might not seem like a big deal, but friction in a book club over the purpose of killing has reached a rather serious pitch in the Middle Eastern world.
Well, that’s more than enough perspective. Pretty sure I can stand to deal with the unpiphany of Neil Breen in my air conditioned and cotton comfort. As nice as it would be to finally know something for fact, even rock bottom, this at least is a wonderful confusion.
Nearly everything about Fateful Findings is wrong. Only once did I think, yes, that’s how a human would react, would speak, would even move their body. I have to respect Breen as a director, you don’t just luck into a failure rate that high. I mean how do you coach a child into losing their motor skills? How? Well, Breen put all of evolutionary nature on hold, pulling off that very miracle just four and half minutes in, when a girl waves goodbye with absolute uniqueness: a bizarre fin with poor blood flow, hiccuping in the wind. And everything is like that! Neil Breen is a warlock conjuring the awkward avantgarde.
I had other ideas before settling on warlock. Breen has the disconcerting lear of a cult leader, so I thought perhaps his lifeless and redundant speech were brainwashing out these automations, a monkey see human do level of willful ignorance. This theory was put to bed by the fact that there was room for it there. From the first kiss you can tell that Breen is not taking sexual advantage of his co-”stars,” as his nibbling makes the late Robert Z’dar look like The Bachelor. No cult leader worth his weight in phenobarbital doesn’t have their constituent genitals wrapped around a little finger, be it lascivious or in abstinence – hell, you could barely pass for a politician – so that one is right out.
Next up was the unfair presumption that these might be siblings of the same derangement, plastic surgery addicts, whose waiting room conversations turned into coffees, into evening wine, where alcohol would-have if-possible loosened lips, that, you are so right, Neil. So right. We should totally make a movie that shows the world just how corrupt things are. And like, how true love. TRUE love. It like, is all around us. It’s magic. People just like, don’t even realize… Fortunately there just isn’t enough plastic surgery to float this one, that and the movie has all the hallmarks of a lone ego.
Breen plays Dylan, an author/computer scientist with the ability to walk through walls, who hacks into and brings to light “the most secret government and corporate secrets,” all while juggling three love interests and a publisher rabid for his next book. There’s something about these self financed dibacles that the writer/director/star always plays a jack-ass off all trades. He’s like that rich neighborhood kid that always has the latest toy and whenever you play he gets superpowers (I shot you! – Didn’t hurt, I’m made of metal!) that evolve in real time (I found a giant magnet! – Doesn’t work cuz I’m invisible metal!) and no matter how stupid it gets (I’m from Expendables!) you have to bite your tongue or he’ll take all the Nerf guns home. It’s so bad that at the end of the film when Dylan vaguely reveals worldwide corruption, even telling his audience they should be scared, while people are being shot or shooting themselves left and right, deep in his mental Xanadu Breen still imagines our lap dog applause, a poorly edited clip of it punctuating every utterance.
Geopolitical treachery, suicide, paranormal powers, I’m making this movie sound way too exciting. Most of the time it sits in sterile condos of modern decor complaining about work or it’s love life. The juicy bits come bobbing up in the sweatsoup of Breen’s summer daydream like lukewarm hunks of ham, but subconscious, with hardly a thought, more a compulsion rising belchward; an impulsive scratching of the itchy crack of crotch and leg. No weight or consequence to any of it. Bluurph you figure out why blurph it’s a magical day… the warm waft of his aftermeal wandering from his place on the pleather sofa. So why is his fermented scent of Diet Coke and California rolls worth your time? Like I said, this man is a warlock!
I fear I might be confusing some of us, myself most of all. A warlock is a male witch, a practitioner of dark arts, making pacts with demon lords and influencing infernal fey beneath the bloodmoons of entropy. And, in his own words, here’s Breen:
I can remember, like everybody, when your 10-years-old and you see your first movie and think, “this is fantastic. How did they do this?” But, the reality is, especially me growing up back east, Hollywood was a million miles away and it was literally a dream. But, it was really something that I was passionate about. So, I knew that I needed to get and wanted to get a real job doing something creative and fun and that I could make money at, while never giving up the dream. That’s when I went to college to become an architect. Graduated college as an architect, practiced as an architect, but still never gave up the dream of being a filmmaker. Never being a part of the Hollywood insider’s group, I knew that I needed to self-fund my movies. I was willing to make that sacrifice and that’s how I got to this point. –INFLUX
I’ve never heard of Influx magazine, and they used the wrong “your” in the above quote, so who knows, maybe the whole thing is made up, but if you’re a pedant leary of the uncredentialed voices haunting the internet what the hell are you doing here? You’ve already robbed me of my bedrock Adolf Wiseau, let me at least have this one paragraph. Thank you. Also, here’s some corroboration O ye of realistic faith. Flavors, curious and pandering.
An architect obsessed with the idea of filmmaking, a “one man show” bringing his ideas to life, doing everything from props to craft services without any formal training or schooling… no one who has seen Breen’s product will have any doubt of the latter at least. I’ll be if fact doesn’t have a way sometimes of being quite likely; still, I’m sticking with warlock.
His whole life (I imagine) he’s harbored a wild hair for film, starstruck by the dramatic storytelling, seen the product cast on screen year after year while he reflected on his why nots, of who couldn’t buy camera X and shoot scene Y, why not, and even with more imagination, more meaning, more allegory, plot… and after all those were neatly sorted and piled, in a little heap no match for his savings, he began working backwards with an earnest laymen’s late night Googling. Starting with poetry to learn his A-B-Cs, headlong into geometry in effort to add. His output, a gibberish all the more enchanting for its mish-mash of convention, his reworking simple machines to wedge what ought be hammered, inclining what’s far from plane, reinventing the wheel without an axle, and, as I’m sure you all saw coming, screwing it up damn well to the nines.
The worst entrepreneurs predate their ideas. Walking around, head down in a greedy muse, they see panzi schemes between cracks in the sidewalk- If one had tiny tollways from slab to slab. Others could operate, I’d charge a fee… Or they open breweries before knowing yeast kills sweetness for potency. Setting up shop without product. Buying vats just to piss in ‘em with ingredient chaos. Location, location, location, and that’s the end of their prospectus, so they’ve three storefronts bleach clean, and they don’t know, they’ll do payday loans or something. One office chair, a cardboard cutout of an everyman smiling short term APRs with an open hand. Big words, fine print, that’s enough investing. But is there anything more apple pie in America than making it up as you go along? Look at baseball, look at hot dogs, look at congress. Is there anything more oh-say-can-you-see than picking yourself up by the bootstraps? Than waking up at-the-dawn’s-early lights and robbing somebody else of there’s? It might seem at odds, but that’s the spirit of ‘76: at odds. There’s no free lunch, certainly, but the early bird does get the worm. And that’s the rub: work or eat worms. Which brings us back to hot dogs. I said we could look at baseball and congress as well, but those are divergent extremes, unlucky luck and luck unlucky given your perspective. Let’s just take the meaty pink middle of that free wheeling bell curve.
Neil Breen sits on (arguably) the good end of the food chain obsessing over hot dogs. Better yet, he’s in an Oscar Meyer food plant. The Hollywood of hotdogs. It’s my dream for him come true. They’re coming out fresh, the pink pork tubes; the anus ends clamped they whiz to his station where he scans for coloration, broken casings, or dogs misshapen by meat chunks, then graduating his eye they collect at a crossroads where with motherly nudges he’ll make sure they file into magazines and shovel off to the double mummery of plastic and suction. Well, what’s keeping Breen from shitting the pink and not sorting it? Why not be the mouth of this machine? So he sets about creating his own without the simplest notion of sausage, just years of convincing himself he did.
What’s in these things? Mechanically separated turkey. Mechanical, sure, I’m the meat mechanic. 2412, both keycode and payroll. Want it different, the nazis. The difference’ll be by hand. Hand craft. Classy. Mechanical turkey is turkey, chicken chicken. Pork. A pig’s ass, he reads the ingredients. Market research to the tune of Big Yellow Taxi. Three meats, why three. Tasting mystery three. Cultured dextrose. Dextrose? Dextrose, sodium phos…
This confusion sends him frustrated from his grocer’s fridge, and come Monday, to fellow meat mechanic Paul. It’s just meat, filler meat, and salt. Water, sugar. Some vinegar. Probably some other shit. You really gonna get ‘ur hand in the game? Don’t do that, (laughing) member Jay? Schlip!, brows raised and mouth aside as his left hand cuts the other and the air. Whole new meaning to hand craft, that, Breen thinks. Member. Member remember. Say they can feel it after it’s gone. Never found it but less than 10% of 10% doesn’t have to be disclosed, is that rule? Maybe 1? Management’s problem. Management and Jay’s.
Here’s his motivating gray area, where had he known the ingredients he may have lost the appetite for his dream, or simply felt impossible tasked with finding a machine that could pulverize pig femur into paste. But in his unknowing, Breen can march confidently around his cul-de-sac collecting pinecones, or picking fist fulls of buckwheat from an interstate median- pulp with Paul’s watervinegarsugar, there’s your filler. Then, after seeing how much a pig eats, being downright offended by the illogic that you’re feeding your food more food than it feeds, and watching the slippery devils make literal waste of half his raw material, he gives up on the backyard slaughter-chase altogether. Like Taco Bell, out of ignorance or from budgetary concern Brean meat slowly turns vegan. The dark secret when crossing the border being it’s not the slop you settled for (cardboard is no more healthy a byproduct, but a promise is a promise), a perfect analogy for what makes our warlock.
Breen isn’t casing up animal wop but his output isn’t much better. And yet with the blueprint of a redhot his shat has a hundred percent less snout mash and anal rind. Warlock! You can savor the mouth feel of each filmed minute like it’s Ingmar Bergman. Breen’s auteur is an equally intricate inversion of sense: striking but not profound, deep without even the substance of grade D animal protein. While it’s a wonder with every viewing of something like Persona you can learn a little more, rewatch Fateful Findings and you’ll wonder more and learn less. It’s laser focused confusion, stripped down to the perfect jumble of inessentials, surprising and mundane. It’s such a contradiction you’ll likely wrestle with whether it’s intentional, I mean who sits bemused in the puddle of their friends suicide? Did he honestly just do a panty-drop shot, but like… not with panties? Why is he alternating shots of a crowd, showing just feet, just faces? So you’ll waffle along with him, a petal fake, a petal real, but never reaching the conclusion of just style and stigma. Of course the safest route with anything you don’t understand is to brand it a witch, burn it at the stake and move on with your day.
NEIL BREEN IS A WARLOCK!
I put this movie off for a few years where the only way to see it was to pay for it (financially that is, mentally you can’t help but pay, it shuffles through your brain like a comical mechanic – what’s this? wooosh! over the shoulder goes the radiator tracing an arc of coolant in the air; and this certainly is helping things. hrrmph! the whole engine comes up rumbling between his two hands – to the point where having seen it three times I can’t remember who my grandparents are/were, what a pickle is, where to bathroom, when to wipe and why, to say nothing of closing parenthesis) and with a price tag of twenty bones then on Amazon, or Breen kindly offering to deduct 25.95 from me via PayPal (five dollars more than the Criterion Blu-Ray of Fellini’s masterpiece, 8 1/2!) well you can understand my refusal. I’m nearly willing to call that a mistake. Fateful Findings isn’t as quotable as The Room, and Breen is no match for the real life character of Wiseau, but taken on the whole it’s arguably the better bad movie. The mushroom, the kids, the crash scene, the coma, Breen’s war on bra’s, the books, the laptops, the coffee…. A supercut of Fateful curios is an hour and forty minutes, it’s the movie from start to finish, and for the time being it’s up on YouTube in it’s entirety.