Juan Valdivia’s half-hour, Chicago-made experimental narrative short Drowning (1989) is certainly ambitious. It has two quotes from J.G. Ballard, interspersed lines of poetry by Stevie Smith, a striking and effective score by George Daugherty, and a difficult allegorical plot about a real estate man who commissions an artist to record his own suicide by drowning. The metaphysical trappings and structure, which involve intercutting between two different deaths by asphyxiation, tend to overwhelm the plot, but lead to some impressive underwater photography by Janusz Kaminski. With John R. Tobinski, Tom Blanton, Tanya White, and (in a cameo) Julia Cameron. (JR)

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