Who Killed Cock Robin?

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Not having spent any time in Butte, Mont., I cannot say whether life there is as dull as “Who Killed Cock Robin?,” a movie that is set there. I do know, however, that if Butte really is boring and meandering, then at least it did not become that way on purpose. “Who Killed Cock Robin?,” on the other hand, seems to be trying at it.

The film, from minimalist writer/director Travis Wilkerson, paints Butte as a Western, honky-tonk kind of town, once a mining community but now just a quiet place full of barflies and would-be cowboys. These include Barrett (Barrett Miller), a local boy who works occasionally as a dishwasher in a restaurant; Dylan (Dylan Wilkerson), who calls himself “one of Ginsburg’s Trotskyites” and works as a hospital clerk; and Charlie (Charlie Parr), Barrett’s landlord, 20 years older than the boys and a divorcee.

The three men spend their time shooting pool, drinking beer, and occasionally taking a break from those activities to smoke cigarettes. Through it all, they wax philosophical about war, workers’ rights and other important things, their major thesis being that everything in Butte went to crap since the mines closed down.

Wilkerson generally avoids anything resembling a plot, though Barrett — a sympathetic, pitiable character — does manage to shoplift some beer and spend the night in jail before the film returns to its doldrums.

It’s a semi-effective exercise in bare-bones filmmaking, mixed with some fine guitar-accompanied folk songs, but mostly it’s a shot-on-video, seems-like-it-was-improvised, film-school-style rumination on the bleak future of small-town America — and a stilted one at that.

C- (1 hr., 25 min.; Not Rated, probably R for abundant harsh profanity.)

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