If manifested as a specific ecology, YTV’s programming would most likely be a barren arctic tundra. Yale students battling the grips of insomnia are all too familiar with the scene: Past midnight, amidst horrid fluorescent infomercials, one finds a short-lived respite on channel 24. Yet no matter how amusingly dreary student-created television may be, frenzied irritation at wobbling cinematography and lame one-liners eventually sets in with everyone, and the channel is switched with alarming alacrity. But maybe, just maybe, things are on the upswing.
Enter “Idiot Wind,” a schizophrenic 90-minute film written, directed and starring two JE seniors, Nick Evans and Alexander Cote, a former scene editor. Nick and Zander (as the Converse crowd calls him) conceived of the film, which is currently airing on YTV as a five-episode series, at the end of their junior year, and finished writing it early fall semester. “Idiot Wind” has a simple yet overwhelmingly bizarre core concept: start with a cliched archetype and rapidly escalate into absurdity.
“We were trying to take the idea of a sitcom and create a warped drama,” explains Zander from an editing room of the Digital Media Center.
“Also, it’s really more about people,” Nick adds sarcastically.
The film explores a piquant crowd, ranging from a drifter claiming to be Jesus to an ex-con pedophile invited to spend the night in Zander’s house. The entire cast is composed of Yale students and their siblings, who are all mostly friends of the core duo.
The plot of “Idiot Wind” centers on the idiosyncratic antics of the two central characters as they exist in the comic confines of Yale. It is also punctuated with brief interviews of random people and fictional characters who discuss why Nick and Zander are so weird. Unlike most other YTV films, which showcase a nauseating array of banal special effects and rehearsed karate, Nick and Zander aim for simplicity, or at least they do in the beginning.
Swigging paper bag-swaddled booze in an abandoned building, the film begins with the two complaining about girlfriends, and they continue on with other typical college banter. The first two of the five episodes begin and end in this obscure warehouse, providing holistic closure to what’s sandwiched in-between. Essentially, the rest of “Idiot Wind” showcases a type of Yale everyone desires but is too scheduled to attain — one of thorough sloth and calamity.
The central house is populated by a passed-out/roving population of eccentrics, namely the film’s resident moronic pothead figures Andrew and Jaime. Other characters drift in an out, engaging in random sex acts (including Jesus, who buys a hooker for an idyllic afternoon on Zander’s couch), and generally acting like tired college students. The dialogue is colloquial, sometimes flat, and is obviously written for a college crowd.
The film exploits the more excruciating Yale personalities, but does so with fun irony. Nick’s girlfriend Liz typifies the GPA-phile who commands section and dreams of law school. She tries to convince him to pursue business and avoid his perennially unkempt friends. Liz represents the voice of Yale logic, with the exquisitely clean suite and bad taste to match (upon purchasing Nick a horrendous shirt, he replies “It’s great. It has buttons and sleeves.”)
Yet before “Idiot Wind” can slip into monotony, it careens into dark plot twists and sheer randomness. For instance, Zander’s real-life younger siblings — who are surprisingly hilarious — come to visit while the pedophile decides to have a sleep-over. And, later, Zander’s unbottled frustration causes him to spray poor Jesus’ brains onto the kitchen sink. (Then he goes on a killing spree.)
While inventive, the film hits some blatant dull snags. The acting from some of the peripheral characters is consistently boring and uninspired — though not enough to sink the film. And most of the cinematography, and overall artistic vision, leaves much to be desired. To be gentle, as a novice film project it makes an admirable effort.
“We were aiming to learn how to make a movie,” explains Zander. “To map the transition from page to screen.”
While currently showing the project in five episodes airing Sunday nights, Zander and Nick plan to screen the film in its entirety in late April or early May.
Amongst the dregs of YTV, “Idiot Wind” is certainly an anomaly — not necessarily in its quality, but in that it attempts to elevate itself to something more than a suite of guys filming inane fight sequences or hackneyed melodrama. If “Wind” isn’t YTV’s first quasi-artful offering in a climate of complete idiocy, at least it’s a start.