Homo Universalis – doing important work at home
A Latin professor at The University of Southern Mississippi, Miles Doleac is the epitome of a polymath, or the aforementioned above, Latin for “renaissance man.”
I’ve only recently learned about Hattiesburg native Doleac, his Historia Films, and the important work that he’s doing locally, and Mississippi at large. Recently viewing the trio of features released by Historia so far, actually multiple times, I truly appreciate what Doleac is bringing to the table. I personally enjoy nothing more than a film that reveals to the viewer an antagonist dealing with human issues, and not being a black-and-white, mustache-twirling villain. Doleac delivers this in spades.
Carving his brand of genre-bending themes into tired tropes, Doleac has been setting a precedent since his directorial debut, The Historian. Doleac has established himself as a filmmaker that can work miracles with a tight budget. For that alone, I’d like to chew on his ear for a bit, but the films are actually engaging and smart, with a high production value. I’ve only a page to work with, so a light brush into Doleac’s filmography will have to make do.
In 2014’s The Historian, newly-transplanted history professor Ben Rhodes arrives and quickly begins a difficult working relationship with a tenured Dr. Hadley. William Sadler plays his role superbly, caring for his father, while at the same time, longing for a student that enters into a romantic relationship with Doleac’s character. Dealing with professional morality, empathy, marriage, and sexual assault, I was shocked at how deep the film became in the second act. It was a solid debut feature with a satisfying conclusion.
Coming next in 2016 was The Hollow. This was the first film I viewed, and is by far my favorite. Sporting a killer cast that I have no idea how Doleac pulled off, this film sincerely feels like a fully budgeted Hollywood film. A Southern noir film with a hint of dark humor, The Hollow hits on all the right cylinders, filling me with a Lynchian supernaturalism. James Callis, who was my reason for watching Battlestar Galactica, shines as a troubled FBI agent, while Bill Sadler and William Forsythe chew the scenery in their respected scenes. It’s crazy to see Doleac change gears so dramatically, playing the sleazy, corrupt sheriff’s deputy.
The latest release was Demons, which arrived in 2017. My forte is horror, so I was more than glad to give this a watch. The use of time transitions to go from present day to eight years in the past, while trickling the story to us about what actually occurred was phenomenal. The film gradually turns from a lets-get-the-gang-together melodrama into something extremely gothic, leaving us to wonder if a botched possession really did occur, and if personal demons are actually worse than spiritual demons.
But what’s to come is what I’m extremely excited for. On June 7, Doleac and Historia’s new film, Hollowed Ground, is premiering at the Grand Theater. The trailer for the film seems like a breath of fresh air with a healthy mix of gore, Native American lore, and Southern macabre. A couple trying to recover from an extramarital affair travels to a secluded cabin in the woods, and learns the dangers of trespassing. Then, less than two weeks later, Festival South will be hosting FSFX, a film festival that Doleac has been executive director of since its founding. Yours’ truly will be on hand the entire week, making sure to not miss a thing. Talk about a busy month for film in Hattiesburg. This film critic is eagerly awaiting what Doleac has planned next for us.
Tim Bynum is a Jones County native who lives in Laurel with his wife, Lauren. An avid film fan since 1985, keep up with him at thefilmsnob.reviews and on Instagram and Facebook: @the_filmsnob.