Gonzo Film Maker Ramzi Abed Strikes Again With Two Offerings: Mystery World Of Sex and Telephone World
by Reviewer Rob
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I took the time to watch both of these DVDs from Ramzi Abed. The initial dismay at their poor production quality slowly gave way to a sense that there was more substance than what was initially absorbed. It was as if you’d taken a hit of weed that crept up on you as time went by. The next day I kept thinking back to the meaning of what I’d watched.
In the first scene of Telephone World we meet “Rachel” as she sits at a streetside LA cafe with some friends chatting when a call comes in with good news from her manager (she’s an actress) and there’s a lot of high-fives and OMG’s. Elissa Dowling’s character Rachel is an unstable wine-boozer/chronic cutter, coke-snorting, self-centered bitch of a Hollywood actress who lands a role in a hot new series. So her life is pretty rosy. Or is it? She’s avoiding phone calls from her mother, only listening to messages on her apartment landline’s answering machine alerting her about the declining health of her father. Then there’s the female friend who calls Rachel on her cell phone to complain that she’ll lose her boyfriend, who eventually calls Rachel on her cell and breaks up, capping it by wishing her the best with her “career” (feeling that way is how he knows it’s over). Here’s where Dowling’s character does a stellar job of humiliating herself by begging for her relationship to not be over. Then her mom calls shortly after that and leaves a message on the landline that her father finally died, prompting Rachel to pick up the phone and reach out to mom after the fact with tearful apologies.
All this happens over the phone. Because it’s a telephone world we live in, you see. Seriously, the phone break-up scene and the cutting segment – where Dowling looks like she actually really draws blood on her pale thigh with a razor – are what impressed me as far as the acting. She can really emote a tearfully pain-filled onscreen cry. The other performances, mainly by the cellphone-calling female friend and the boyfriend, left way, waaaay too much to be desired and detracted from the overall watchability of the movie. The poor sound didn’t help either, or the hokey squashed blurred letterbox format of some scenes. But this is crazy/arty gonzo film making that Abed’s produced for us. It’s a genre that fits somewhere in between guerrilla video documentary and scripted reality parody with a moral, the moral being while navigating the stinky waters of the Hollywood career and social scene don’t lose sight of what’s most important in life, which is family and those you love. That’s the value of Telephone World and Abed as a film maker: he showed us what he wanted to tell us and let the story do the talking.
“It’s about the layers of reality we present to others,” Ramzi said to me via Facebook Messenger, “and also how far we go to shut things out in order to pursue fame or success. It’s about love, loss and what really matters… Or is it all an act? What is real? These are what it’s all about. Voyeurism is just the style and method to tell the story.”
Mystery World Of Sex is basically another of Abed’s soft-core porno wish-fullfilments with him starring in the role of Brock Doom and chatting up some young female scenester who enters his bedroom after a night out in the clubs, then wakes him up as he lounges on his bed and pulls his dick out to play with it as Abed takes photos. He does other shoots with girls in his West Hollywood apartment too, and the message is clear: he’s here on this planet to hang out with the poon. No mystery there.
Reviewer Rob’s Q&A with Ramzi Abed:
Q: Was the actress in TELEPHONE WORLD a cutter?
A: I can’t answer that. Is it reality or is it a movie?
Q: Fine. Was the blow any good?
A: Was it blow? Or was it powdered sugar? We will never know… Or that’s the idea.
Q: The sound in sections where the dialog was muddled was pretty bad. Was that intentional?
A: Yes. I wanted it to be as mysterious as possible, and simultaneously feel as much like a real video you’re watching than something televised or professionally produced.
Q: Would you say that style/goal is more gonzo or art haus?
A: A bit of both. Voyeurism is the vehicle. Questioning reality is the destination.
Q: Is TELEPHONE WORLD about voyeurism?
A: No… It’s about the layers of reality we present to others and also how far we go to shut things out in order to pursue fame or success. It’s about love, loss and what really matters… Or is it all an act? What is real? These are what it’s all about. Voyeurism is just the style and method to tell the story.
Telephone World trailer 1:
Telephone World trailer 2:
Mystery World Of Sex trailer: