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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Fabled
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Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you. That's the message I took away from Fabled, Ari Kirschenbaum's Kafkaesque tale about a man who's either going insane or being driven insane by someone or something just out of his (and our) range of vision. Like the main character in Kafka's The Trial, who gets trapped in a bureaucratic maze, the main character in Fabled is named Joseph, but it's hard to tell whether the maze this Joseph wanders through exists in the world or only in his fevered head. Whichever it is, he spends a lot of time making wrong turns. Obsessed with an ex-girlfriend who may or may not be having an affair with their mutual psychiatrist, Desmond Askew's Joseph lurches through Fabled in a state of panic. He's clearly disturbed, but is he, you know, disturbed?

Alas, I still couldn't answer that question after watching the movie, and I wasn't inclined to watch it again to see if things cleared up a bit. Kirschenbaum supplies plenty of clues in the form of a fable about a wolf and a crow, recited by a small child with a British accent. But the fable is finally as opaque as the rest of the movie. Luckily, there are compensations - a virtuoso soundtrack that uses techno music to suggest a mind slipping off the tracks, for instance. And Askew's face, which is, well, askew, the forehead unusually high, the eyes unusually large and in dire need of Visine. Askew's Joseph is little more than a bundle of nerves, but he's a rather memorable bundle of nerves, whereas the movie, for all its flashback inserts and portentous camera angles, is rather forgettable, not to mention impenetrable.

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