The Foreigner (1978)

“When we dream that we dream we are beginning to wake up.”

Written, directed, produced and even starring Amos Poe, No Wave film The Foreigner was made on a $5,000 budget. And unfortunately it shows. In this black and white film, blond German secret agent Max Menace (Eric Mitchell) arrives at the airport one night. He intends to hide out in New York and rents a room at the Chelsea Hotel. He’s followed by female P.I. Fili Harlow (Patti Astor) and is soon hunted throughout the city. The New York underground scene can, apparently, make mincemeat of even a German secret agent.

A great deal of the action is deliberately composed of long shots and no dialogue in this minimalist, existential film. In one scene, the characters discuss Max Menace and the camera shots focus on a hairy belly button, feet, a drill, a belt, etc. There are some good elements–the alienation of the city landscape is clearly apparent, neon lights reflect on city streets, etc. But one of the main problems is the abysmal acting. Debbie Harry manages to hold her own (as always) as Dee Trik, and she has a great scene in an alley. For Punk enthusiasts, The Cramps, and The Erasers all appear in the film. Another huge problem is the sound quality. In several scenes, it’s almost impossible to hear what the characters are saying. The Foreigner is an improvement over Unmade Beds, but it’s destined for only a tiny audience. Still, it would be interesting to see what Amos Poe could do with a bigger budget and people who can act.

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