Daniel Kuriakose - Poet & Filmmaker

"Alden Deforming to Life" on INSTAGRAM

Trailer of 45 minute film , directed by Daniel Kuriakose, a 2021 Graduate of SUNY Purchase

a 2022 film written and directed by Daniel Kuriakose dkhime.kuriakose7@gmail.com

Kuriakose's film is a surreal and existential story, with cinemagraphic methodology and innovative non-linear techniques that Mr. Kuriakose employs on several significant levels: In the beginning scene, a young man named Ben sits alone at a table in a cafe diner, the waitress sits on the floor nearby taking his order. Ben then encounters a childhood friend Jared with whom he updates personal news of the time since childhood. Ben speaks of his recent marriage.

Then, while Jared goes to the counter to order coffee, Ben is visually transported alone to a paved path in a large park, where he encounters an unknown
young man who is holding a baseball bat. This meeting quickly escalates into a deadly encounter, where Ben is bludgeoned. The killer strips Ben of his Hawaiian-floral shirt and puts it on himself, and next visits Ben's home and rings the doorbell. Ben's pretty wife Mia answers the door with apparent recognition. “I'm home,” he says. “I can see that,” she replies, then reluctantly, and somewhat furtively, invites him in for something to eat. This is Alden. Sitting across a wide glass kitchen table, Alden, dressed in Ben's fancy shirt, seems to expect Mia to accept him, but she says, “You're not my husband...” to which Alden answers repeatedly, “I killed him… He's dead. I killed him.”

I relate this not meaning to be a plot-spoiler, but as this scene is really the jumping-off point of this surrealist story -- especially as Ben is next transported alive back from the park to his seat in the diner! There must be something more to this situation, as Mia admonishes Alden, "It's not your fault..." -- Were these surreal hours of confrontation between Ben and Alden, the existential sense of Ben's murder, and Alden's visit to Mia, a fantasy or a premonition?

On a level of dialog, the initial table discussion of Ben and Jared sets the stage and addresses issues -- social issues – of individual recognition of creativity and technique, and issues of mortality in the community. The news of the discovery of a mysterious body under a nearby recreation site, a bowling alley in this case, defines these apparent tangents in the story as expositions and clues to the way events are about to unfold in the abstract dimension of Time, past vs. future, murder vs. acceptance, life vs. death. In the dialog, the film's continuity explores the existence and dilemmas of ambiguity in the premonition of pending actions of dominance and violence, and the problems of equivocation in terms of how each person (each character) interprets and understands immediately recent behaviors and events. This is a kind of Everyman story.

In this production, director Daniel Kurikose's techniques utilize horizontal parallel masking bars in order to develop the surrealist presentation of the film itself, that is: obscuring obvious aspects of pending actions, also pointing up the separation between the viewer and the movie screen, the separation between perpetrators and victims, and the unclear separation between future and past events. This is a unique twist on the principle of “suspension of belief” that must take place in any film, television show, or in reading a book. In every case, in this production, the timing, the direction, the familiarity and arch-typicality of settings, and the professional talents of each actor, all work to create a successful film. Especially notable for their acting talents are the cool demeanor of Isabel Biagiotti as Mia, the experiential awareness of Sandro Gurdzhua as Ben, and the personal determination and the transformation-(and Deformation)-in-progress of Jackson Stenborg as Alden.

~ review by Johnes Ruta 22 March 2022
independent curator and art theorist