Phoenix Film Festival 2017: The Dutchman

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Whenever I see a movie and they make a reference to places I have lived, whether it’s Corona, CA in Nightcrawler, or Phoenix, AZ in Psycho, I always have to give a shout out. So when I was researching movies to see at the festival, I came across this little guy that takes place in the Phoenix area and chronicles one man’s search for the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, of course I had to see it. If you’re not familiar with the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, it is, according to legend, a large gold mine hidden in the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction just east of Phoenix. It is named after a German immigrant who found it in the 1880s. Thousands of people go looking for the mine every year, several have even died doing so. If you’re unfamiliar with its story I encourage you to check it out, it’s pretty interesting.

The Dutchman follows the son of one of the wealthiest men in the country as he drops out of college and, while hitchhiking through Arizona, learns about the gold mine and makes it his mission to find it. Along the way he meets a man who is an heir to the mine’s founder and knows of its location. In a drunken and drug fueled bender the location of the mine is divulged and our main character sets out to find it. He then ends up missing and a family investigator is sent to find him.

When you see a movie like this, it is raw filmmaking. Good or bad, these people put their blood sweat, and tears in this. They were able to craft this thing for probably the amount of money it costs to run one commercial for a major Hollywood movie, if that. And they’re not looking to make money. They just want to show off their work. So, when I’m reviewing movies like this, it’s hard for me to be too harsh, however there were some story elements I had problems with. I didn’t fully understand everyone’s motivations, which is not a problem in and of itself, but I feel like I should at least care about the main character and their motivations in some form or fashion. The investigator appears to have a clandestine background because he pulls some tricks out of his hat that are questionable, one of which deals a fate to a character that didn’t really deserve what he had come to him.

Having said that, it is still an enjoyable movie. If you’re a fan of local movies, this one was shot here and made by people who live here, I recommend you check this out. It was cool to see some local legends brought to life. Plus the main character drove a Jeep Wrangler so it can’t be all that bad. But if I have one suggestion, please refrain from searching for the gold, nothing good will come of it.

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Jim Lincoln (The Film Department)

A man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery. Writer of things. Watcher of stuff. Quoter of movies. Master of puppets.

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