It’s a documentary, sure. But it’s not really a documentary, if only because this magical night didn’t take place in one night, and these kids’ parents seem like the kind who would look for their boys if they didn’t turn up at curfew.
Hows, whats and whys aside, Tchoupitoulas is a fun piece of filmmaking. Three brothers, Bryan, Kentrell and William Zanders, along with Buttercup, the best-behaved dog ever, spend a night in New Orleans soaking in all it has to offer. There’s no story; instead the meandering camera follows the brothers as they walk through town, taking in the sights.
William, the youngest, is the most vocal and adventurous, getting caught up in the giddiness of catching beads at a parade, and egging his brothers on to enter a ship at night that’s set for demolition. He even pretends to order two margaritas at the abandoned bar.
The best stuff here is the camera work and music, with directors (and brothers) Bill and Turner Ross showing the pulse of singer’s performance, and the quiet moments Perle Noire takes following an energetic burlesque.
William, a fledging recorder player, gets an impromptu flute lesson from a street performer. Fire dances and melts into the background. The city comes alive. Tchoupitoulas is a joy.
Directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross / CCA Cinematheque / NR / 81 min.