The self-doubting artist has been a fairly common character in movies over the years. Heck, Woody Allen has mastered the theme to comedic perfection many times over. One must be careful though if you are going to make a serious "statement" about it - it risks becoming pretentious and unintentionally making your audience wish your lead character would just jump off a bridge. Fortunately, writer/director Brandon Lee's short film External is a refreshing throwback to the days of the true "art film".
With no dialogue and only a musical soundtrack to guide us, we follow our lead character's fever dream through the city of Santa Cruz as he questions his place in the world as an artist. He interacts with his drawings, other city denizens and artist-type hangouts.
Shot beautifully in intentionally grainy black and white, the moody wordless score by Jonatan Garibay truly hypnotizes - it's perfect for this material and I dare say makes the movie. Especially since it has to carry the entire film stem to stern.
Lee's film felt like a movie you'd see at midnight in New York City at the Bleeker Street Cinema if Jonas Mekas was still running it. Something along the lines of Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakhage but without the Satanism and LSD. Which is still cool. Which is how it got our attention.