Jeonju International Film Festival 2015
By Don Simpson | May 5, 2015
Writers: Blake Eckard, Jon Jost
Starring: Arianne Margot, Frank Mosley, Roxanne Rogers, Tyler Messner, Blake Eckard
While acting in Blake Eckard’s Ghosts of Empire Prairie, the quintessential American independent writer-director Jon Jost consumed endless stories about Stanberry, Missouri. Jost’s They Had It Coming absorbs those stories and spins them into fictional tales, purposefully accentuating the grandiose storytelling aspects of small town gossip. The resulting experimental visual poem captures small town middle America with more authenticity than any documentary possibly could.
They Had It Coming enables Jost to dissect a menagerie of classic documentary storytelling devices — such as reenactments, talking head interviews and intertitles — and measure their impact on the audience. All the while, They Had It Coming functions as a cultural time capsule that captures the subtle societal intricacies of small town Midwestern United States.
Jost is such a fascinatingly unique filmmaker; They Had It Coming is as fiercely unhindered by Hollywood tropes as any project he has ever worked on. Unfortunately, Jost’s unconventional style of filmmaking has practically blacklisted him from theatrical distribution and relegated his output to a few brave (mostly international) film festivals who are willing to program his brilliantly challenging output. Independent cinema should be championing filmmakers like Jost, instead he seems to be opting for retirement. That is so overwhelmingly sad, because anyone who is interested in independent cinema should at least be familiar with Jost’s oeuvre. For example, if you have never seen Sure Fire or All the Vermeers in New York, you should definitely start with those, but Jost’s recent films such as Coming to Terms and They Had It Coming certainly deserve attention as well.