Dallas IFF 2012 Short Film Short Review: THE LIFE AND FREAKY TIMES OF UNCLE LUKE

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Chris Marker's landmark short film La jetée gained a new wider audience when, in 1995, Terry Gilliam adapted it to feature length with his film 12 Monkeys. A little over ten years later, The Criterion Collection further graced the film by admitting it into their well curated bosom. However, neither of these accomplishments holds a candle to La jetée's most recent adaptation, The Life & Freaky Times of Uncle Luke.

Uncle Luke is, of course, legendary rapper Luther Campbell of the notorious Miami booty beat kings 2 Live Crew. Luther Campbell's life story is told, with minor embellishments, as a parallel to the story of La jetée with Uncle Luke as the hero. Life & Times manages to tell a story of nuclear disaster, rebirth, time travel, and death in half the time that La jetée did, and for my money, in a much more entertaining way. I would happily watch The Life & Freaky Times of Uncle Luke twice, rather than La jetée.

The film comes to us from directors Jillian Mayer and Lucas Levya, who've taken the story that Marker told in an unconventional way and revised it for telling in an even more unconventional way. The film is staged like a play, with rudimentary props and no locations, all shot on a sound stage. Visually, the film let me flabbergasted, I've never seen anything so lo-fi look so good. Bright and bold colors dominate the screen, and Mayer/Levya's story-telling abilities serve them well in creating a vivid world in which Luke, the scientifically proven "reallest ni**a in Miami," is the savior of Miami.

I suppose the film could've starred anyone, but the story of Luther Campbell and his general charisma, like that of contemporary Biz Markie, is undeniable. Who better to save Miami from nuclear winter than a man who has fought the Supreme Court and won? Check out The Life & Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, it's the flyest 12 minutes you'll spend for a long time to come.
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