I have this friend who married a karate instructor, which isn't by itself all that remarkable, except that it allows everyone else to refer to him as "the ninja" and give them Christmas presents of plastic throwing stars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures and the like. It's one of those running jokes that's more amusingly self-referential than actually funny to anyone outside a radius of ten people.
To some extent, that's the feeling I get when I watch Sujewa Ekanayake's Date Number One — that I'm watching a self-referential film that's much more entertaining to the creators than it is to an uninvolved third party.
The film revolves around five first date vignettes, ranging from a ninja (punk musician John Stabb Schroeder) looking for love to the pursuit of a long-term threesome to a woman who uses air quotes to the point of overkill. All five contain the same lo-fi production values and are indistinguishable in terms of writing and stylistic techniques, which gives the film a certain cohesiveness that, depending on your point of view, may or may not work to the film's advantage. That is to say, you could certainly make an argument for each segment to have its own distinct look. Whether or not they should, I'm not sure.
But if I had to choose, I'd say they should, since one of the chief problems with Date Number One comes from a production style that's so consistently frustrating. Virtually every shot in the film is a loosely-constructed composition, sloppy and with an abundance of head room, where the camera seems completely unsure of where it wants to be, almost as if it wandered in off the street and happened upon these first dates. It reminds me of things I shot before I knew how to shoot things.
As a stylistic choice used for a specific purpose, this isn't so bad, but without some fundamental framing and composition, the camera looks disinterested, like it can't be bothered to get in place for a two shot that does something as simple as have both actors in the frame. So, what you get is a two shot where the ninja is in the frame, but his date is just out of it and the camera has to pan over slightly to catch her dialogue, at which point the ninja is out of the frame. Rarely does the camera seem to make any strong, artistically-driven choices that further the story, nor does it do something as simple as backing up a couple feet and having the confidence to stay with a master shot. There's a distinct feeling that the film might at any moment get fed up with these characters and move on to something else, but not in a way that invests the audience. Rather, it gives the impression that if the film doesn't really care, why should we?