<i>Star Time</i> is an excursion into the nether world of media-defined reality. The protagonist, Henry Pinkle, is filled with longing: to be loved, to belong, to be important. His quest is realized through the manipulations of an archetypal television con man, Sam Bones, who entices and ultimately exploits his disciple and sends him off to a fantastic conclusion. But to attempt to describe the narrative of <i>Star Time</i> is a disservice, for this film resists categorization as few others do; it works on a multitude of levels, both formally and psychologically, that continue to expand as you’re drawn into its world.
The film ostensibly focuses on Pinkle, whose search for normalcy seems only achievable within the context of his favorite (but now canceled) television show. He is preparing to commit suicide, when out of the shadows steps Bones, who “understands” his despair and convinces him his life has a special purpose. Henry returns to his apartment, where Sam is waiting for him. Henry will never be lonely again; they will make the best of teams. A cathedral-like exhibit of hundreds of TVs broadcasts a swirl of seductive and erotic images. Henry is brought to the altar of the “idol.” He will find love in exchange for allegiance, but it’s an allegiance that demands a terrible price.
Cassini’s feature debut is visually dynamic and marked by superb direction and an outstanding use of locations. His excellent cast is headed by Michael St. Gerard, best known for Hairspray, John P. Ryan, with a range of feature credits from <i>The Cotton Club</i> and The Right Stuff</i> to the upcoming <i>The Projectionist</i>, and <i>Maureen Teefy of Fame</i>, <i>Grease II</i> and <i>Supergirl</i>. The musical score is startling and original, and unusually effective in setting a tone and ambience for the film’s narrative. Cassini’s work is rich and fertile; if at select times it’s indulgent, his passion and willingness to take risks certainly justify any moments of excess.