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Cinnamon

{mosimage} To watch the films of artist Kevin Jerome Everson is to be reminded of Mark Twain’s famous preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where he warned what would happen to those foolish enough to go digging for motives, morals and plots. Mixing documentary and performance art with only the faintest whiff of narrative, Everson captures the arbitrary rhythms of average lives with such an absence of significance that it’s tempting to conclude that nothing happens in his films. But while the four shorts that precede it at this REDCAT event merely hint at his skills, the feature-length, documentary-fiction hybrid Cinnamon argues that Everson, like Twain before him, wants to lure the audience away from storytelling expectations to appreciate his work’s naturalistic hues on its own terms. Cinnamon follows Erin (actress Erin Stewart), a bored bank clerk who spends her weekends competing in drag-racing events, and John (John Bowles, essentially playing himself), her coach, mechanic and mentor. Erin, John and those in their racing crew don’t aspire to lift themselves out of their lower-middle-class existence through some big win on the track — they work on cars and race them because, well, they enjoy it. Fixating on John’s meticulous upkeep of Erin’s dragster, Everson goes beyond fetishizing or ennobling mundane labor; rather, he nonchalantly observes how the escapist pleasure of a personal passion brings meaning and balance to a person’s otherwise humdrum life. Everson’s movies often return to themes of African-American struggles, but a great, gentle shrug of a work like Cinnamon speaks to the unknowable inner lives of the anonymous people around us all. Motives and morals are in there too, but Cinnamon’s subjects don’t bother to express them, so why should Everson? REDCAT, Mon., April 9, 8 p.m. www.redcat.org.