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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Jasper Mall - 2020 Slamdance Documentary Review



The Documentary: Jasper Mall

The Director: Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb

The Story: A year in the life of a dying shopping mall.


The Review:
Today's word of the day is quaint. Jasper Mall is a quaint documentary about a quaint little mall in a quaint little town filled with quaint people. Okay, after typing quaint a few times, it sounds weird and awkward in my head which I guess makes sense because the movie itself is also weird and awkward. The entertainment value comes from the weirdness of the setting, the people, and how the story of the mall plays out. It seems like the directors weren't quite sure what exactly to do with the material they filmed over the course of a year's time at the Jasper Mall so they randomly strung together the story lines of a random selection of people.

One issue with the production may have been a lack of compelling people to follow although the directing team of Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb do manage to find entertainment in the mundane and near depressing nature of this former hub of activity that is now deteriorating into a ghost of retail's past. The impact on real people living their daily lives is inevitable as businesses fold and shop owners retire. The film makers do a good job of showing how economics and spending habits have changed in our country leaving a trail of brick and mortar monuments left to rot and ruin in the face of terabytes worth of instantaneous commerce happening constantly over a burgeoning digital landscape.

I worked in various mall stores during my early career days so there was a hefty dose of nostalgia packed into my viewing experience just to see that unique culture and camaraderie that you can only get by containing a group of people in a homogenized structure meant for commerce on a daily basis. If that sounds bleak, it kind of is and the movie definitely conveys that mostly thanks to the fact that Jasper Mall is on a slow and inevitable path to historical oblivion.


Jasper Mall is an official selection of the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Slamdance 2020.


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