Fate, if one believes in such a metaphysical force, can be a devilish provocateur. Or perhaps one believes that the individual creates his or her own destiny. Either way, Daniel Montoya’s Train Station toys with the idea…. alongside 40 filmmakers from 25 various countries.
Known as CollabFeature, Train Station takes a single narrative thread of a man who misses a train that may never arrive and spins off a myriad of possibilities after this event. Every few minutes, a single cut introduces us to new people playing the same characters. One second we’re following an English speaking couple, and the next, this couple have been replaced by an Iranian speaking couple, continuing the story. Think of it as a multi-national rift on “Waiting For Godot” if the mysterious impetus of Godot was a train. Not shying away from any type of gender, age, sexuality or nationality, Train Station is a truly collaborative effort.
Intermittently returning to a central point (mostly the man on the train platform deciding whether to stay or leave), the film sweeps through numerous permutations of genre. In one “episode,” it becomes a thriller full of wounded bank robbers, stolen cash and black marketeer organ thieves. If that tawdry story line doesn’t excite, the next “episode” turns into a domestic drama of missed opportunities, tragedies and ill-timed sexual misadventures. If nothing else, like the weather here in Texas, if you don’t like it, wait a bit and it’s certain to change.
Like so many anthology or collab films, Train Station does suffer from bouts of inconsistency. Certain filmmakers seem to have a better visual handle on things, such as the final, contemplative and quite magical final portion. Other sections (and actors) don’t fare as well. I was scratching my head during one prolonged golf course brawl and scared to look at the screen when a group of German-speaking clowns overtake the drama. Yet those are quickly forgotten as the film rolls along, breathlessly, in another language and part of the world.
In this wired age of Kickstarter and crowdfunding, I can certainly see the benefits of communal filmmaking and its desire to seamlessly share a myriad of voices and ideas. Train Station may not be the most perfect example of that, but its trying and that’s all that matters.
Locally, Train Station will be playing free of admission at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday March 22, 2017 at the Latino Cultural Center of Dallas located at 2600 Live Oak St.