Black Crescent Moon

Black Crescent Moon wants to be a Coen Brothers movie. More specifically, it wants to be Fargo or No Country for Old Men. It's none of these things. Not even close.

Black Crescent Moon

Director: Adam Pertofsky
Cast: James Oliver, William Atherton, Gil Bellows, Melora Walters, Brent Briscoe, Tia Texada
Distributor: Monarch
Rated: R
Release Date: 2010-04-06

Black Crescent Moon wants to be a Coen Brothers movie. More specifically, it wants to be Fargo or No Country for Old Men. It's none of these things. Not even close.

Charlie Dexton (James Oliver) is the reluctant sheriff of Wrightsville, Texas, a border town so small it seems to only have a population of a dozen or so, a town so small that the mayor is the chaplain as well as the town coroner. Despite the lack of people, the citizenry of Wrightsville is rife with needlessly quirky characters, like a pair of elderly bearded twins who provide weekend entertainment at the local watering hole as an “air band”, Charlie’s father (William Atherton), the previous sheriff, now retired, who does metal sculpture in the nude, and Suzy (Meredith Monroe), a waitress who is obsessed with all things New Jersey.

Alas, these quirky characters don't t give the movie any additional personality. Since Charlie was born and raised in Wrightsville, he has a long, complex history with all of the inhabitants, which they talk about at length, and in largely abstract terms so none of it ever really makes any sense.

At the moment, however, Charlie has a new problem. There may have been a murder. There is a body of a local trucker face down on the floor in the middle of The Pie Hole, a diner and the social center of Wrightsville with the slogan, “We Never Shut”, which should be, “We Don’t Let Dead Bodies Disrupt the Breakfast Rush”, since they keep serving omelets and gravy fries around the corpse and no one seems to mind.

What unfolds is sort of a mystery. Was it murder? Was it an accident? Was it rat poison or allergies? Did it have something to do with drug smuggling? Somehow, Charlie’s no account brother, Sam (Gil Bellows), may or may not be involved, but regardless of his involvement they have some issues to work out. There is an awkward subplot about Sam running off with Charlie’s fiancé on their wedding day.

Nothing much actually happens in Black Crescent Moon. The characters talk about a lot of things, but there isn’t a great deal of action. Everything they talk about goes back to when they were kids. Numerous conversations start out with Charlie referencing something a character did when they were young. Katelan (Melora Walters) burned down a house when she was ten, and that somehow means that she can’t be a deputy as an adult. There's a lot of talk and none of it is particularly compelling.

The movie is full of long, static shots of the barren Texas landscape, dominated by the endless sky, while a car drives from one edge of the frame to the other. These could easily be left over frames from the aforementioned Coen Brothers films. These vivid, colorful exterior shots contrast sharply with any scene that takes place inside, which are muddy and underlit.

In theory this could be a visual cue as to the stifling, trapped feelings of everyone in the town, they all want out but are unable to leave. At one point Katelan stands in front of a beaded curtain in a matching sweater and she simply blends in with the background. This was most likely an intentional attempt at stylization, but it simply looks like sloppy filmmaking.

The story rattles on, and Charlie shuffles through scenes doing a sullen James Van Der Beek impression. At the end there is a sad attempt at a shocking twist. It's tacked on and forced, like the writing duo of Dexton Deboree and Adam Pertofsky (who is also the director, and, oddly enough, was nominated for an Academy Award this year) looked at each other and said, “Hey, no one will expect this character to be the murderer”.

The DVD of Black Crescent Moon comes with nothing but the option for Spanish subtitles. The menu doesn’t even say the name of the movie, it says “Play Movie”, “Scenes”, “Setup”, and that's it. The best part of the DVD is the cover It features five 20-somethings dressed up as cowboys and Photoshopped in front of a semi-truck, none of whom had anything to do with the movie. That pretty much sums everything up.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.