From Dinosaurs to Destiny, Joe Badon Builds "The Wheel of Heaven: Chapter One"
A silly affair. A promising time.
"Determine your own destiny" is the new "choose your own adventure," it seems, at least as far as Joe Badon's first official entry in his new web series The Wheel of Heaven is concerned. Badon, a local New Orleans area filmmaker (and a weird wave of his own making) has taken another leap into the personal and the slightly esoteric, with a chapter (entry) that's as cosmic as it is mysterious.
Kali Russell, the director’s leading muse, plays various variants of a woman named Margaret (though her name also has variations between variants) whose existence is seen as though in a dimensional warp of a nesting doll structure. Sometimes, we see internal figures engaging with external characters, sometimes we see imagined roles as read from a book, and other times we're privy to Badon's behind-the-scenes and script table reads with cast and crew.
From one verse to another, Chapter One of The Wheel of Heaven is relentless, making viewers aware that being on their toes is the proper action to take. No, not so much from a pins and needles sensation, but more of a what the hell will come next question and exclamation.
One variant of Margaret is a car mechanic who, after making an absurdly odd and hilariously drawn-out book purchase from an elderly curio clerk, takes a break from work to "determine” some “destiny.” Breaking her away from reading momentarily is a coworker who, covered in motor oil and with a cigarette in his mouth, repeatedly remarks how she has "hot tits" and, rather clumsily, stutters while questioning her book. This reminded me of the assassin scene from Mulholland Drive, where one dumb decision leads to one mistake after another. It's behavioral slapstick and fun folly. Here, Badon limits the duration of the folly but does potentially expand the imagination of the story that he's building. After all, how many variants of this mechanic exist in the multiverse?
The Wheel of Heaven has three more chapters to go. Joe Badon's trippiest fest yet, it'll be difficult to wait for the remaining entries. His prequel/preface to the series, The Blood of the Dinosaurs, suggested so much with what may have been an anecdotal segment in the grand scheme of the series, but this one part of The Wheel of Heaven flat-out states that single anecdote is merely by itself. There's a part for everyone and everything, and a whole destiny left to determine.
This is no Netflix Interactive outing, mind you. "Determine your own destiny" is but for those living within the series. For us, the story as it unfolds has been set in stone. For them, it's happening in real-time, being made in more real-time. The relationships between crew, cast, author, and audience are clearly defined here, but are also played with to an extent - at least, as far as our imagination and our choices are concerned.
If each of us are variants of Margaret, where would we go? How would we act and react? There's so much to plunder and so much more to behold. 4/5