Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Drive Way

The new independent film Intersections circles around Memphis, and the point.

By Alysson Cook

DECEMBER 7, 1999:  Driving around Memphis in a cab with a pack of smokes, the company of strangers, the threat of unresolved murders looming in the background, and the world at your gas pedal — this is Intersections.

Intersections is the first feature made by the Memphis-based production company Working Man Productions, LLC. The company was started by University of Memphis film school graduates Yuichi Kurokawa, David Stotts, and Gregory Gray.

“This film is geared to be a subtle comedy, but it has a darker side,” says Gray, production manager. “It’s a unique way of looking at human nature and how different people interact and are never quite the same.”

The idea for the feature came from Kurokawa, the film’s writer, producer, and director. Originally from Japan, he says that when he first came to Memphis, there were so many things that fascinated him, like religion and gunshots. He says that in his country so many people are indifferent to religion as opposed to Memphis with all its churches. Also, he’d never heard gunshots until he got here, although he heard several while filming.

“I really wanted to showcase my take on the city with a fresh perspective,” Kurokawa says. “Having a taxicab is ideal because you can show the hot spots in Memphis. Cabs are where strangers meet and connect and may never see each other again.”

Intersections, starring Greg Rodgers as a young, enthusiastic cabbie, was shot all over the city, from Riverside Drive to Humphreys Boulevard. It’s divided into sections — addictions, lessons, natures, fates, and intersections — and takes a Pulp Fiction-esque stab at humor. The result is a mite trite — with its thin symbolism of airplanes, movies, God, and gunshots — but it has a sort of whacked-out charm that’s like finding the meaning of life by reading Dr. Seuss backwards.

Most of the characters are developed with radiating charisma. A young woman right off the plane from Japan constantly giggles, smacks her gum, and takes her lines from a slang dictionary. A bitchy, chain-smoking female fare says, “You better learn to wipe your own ass, because God isn’t gonna come down from heaven and wipe it for you.”

Part of the fun is following the cab drivers’ routes. One goes from Front Street to Poplar heading east then, in the next scene, he’s turning west onto Poplar from Danny Thomas. He heads back downtown and suddenly surfaces somewhere out east before magically appearing before the North Main trolley line.

The acting is worth a bit of recognition. Greg Rodgers and the other cab drivers, as well as the woman who talks about God wiping asses, do a nice job, as do several of the other actors. Intersections director of photography, Andy Babin, who came back to Memphis from Los Angeles to work on the film, filled in where the script was lacking with many of his shots, giving viewers more to work with than what the words of the script say.

The ambiguity of the film leaves everything to the viewer’s imagination. It may not hit you at first, but as you keep wondering what the hell is going on, the actual story underneath comes out.

“I really wanted to keep it ambiguous,” explains Kurokawa. “In typical Hollywood movies, they spoon-feed you and tell you exactly what’s going on. In this film, the audience is left to figure out what happened. I think the movie experience is not to see what’s on the screen, but to see what’s behind the screen.”

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