Vacant Lot | Chicago Reader

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Local filmmaker Skee Skinner makes his feature debut with this likable but simpleminded drama about a young, idealistic jazz trumpeter. Polaris Crumble (John Milton Davis) worships his father, an alcoholic pianist, but has trouble making an emotional commitment to the law student he's courting. Skinner and coscreenwriter Paul Branton have tin ears, and their dialogue amounts to little more than a series of feel-good speeches. The direction is perfunctory, the acting mostly stiff, and the camera setups unimaginative, except for some south-side location shots. Yet the gangly Davis elicits sympathy with his doleful demeanor and seductive voice-over, and Chuck Webb's moody score almost succeeds in papering over the gaps in the narrative.

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