Coming of age stories may be the most popular genre of indie filmmaking, and perhaps this is because the storyline is a flexible one, ensuring there is much agitation in a story to propel the protagonist without offering exactly how the story will resolve. The same is not true for love stories, for example. Argentinian writer/director Matias Lucchesi's first feature, Natural Sciences, the search for self is dressed in Lila's (Petra Hertzog) insuppressible need to find her father.
The opening shot of Mike Ott's third and final installment of his Antelope Valley Trilogy, Lake Los Angeles, glides into his narrative arch from the center of an open road, the dust trail illuminated in a flurry. A young girl's voice can be heard over the quietly stunning image, whispering a story which settles, along with the camera, on the rabbit in the moon. From the dusty floodlit haze, we break to the image of the back of a man's head, precisely lit and composed, seen trying to alleviate his solitude with a prostitute. It’s an emotionally gripping film with a naturalistic tone, following the interwoven stories of its two star-crossed protagonists. The subtle forces at work in this echoing tale are a concoction of the way images accumulate meaning, using Malick-esque narration sequences and repetition of phrases and spaces, all to the gain of the understated story.
Part romantic comedy, part cool and sometimes-condemning reflection, writer/director Benedikt Erlingsson's Of Horses and Men is both comedic and stoic. Shot against the moving landscapes of his native home of Iceland, an ensemble cast blunders its way through a series of small stories that often end with death, either human or equine.
The story of Short Term 12 is one that is absolutely cultivated by the actors who bring these incredibly complex and delicate characters to life. Film Pulse’s Gina Kelly recently got the chance to sit down with Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now)
In the world of film we tend, as a culture and as an audience, to deal with subject matter that is derived from reality and push it through a filter of fantasy, creating characters that play the villains and heroes we need to voice our experience of life. Even in terms of political events in narrative film, more often than not, we create something 'in light' of something else. Fruitvale Station not only avoids this tendency, but it also reveals exactly how powerful it can be to simply narrate as closely as possible to a real life story without delving into a documentary form. The result is a strikingly sincere and brave piece of cinema.
Continuing with our mid-year top tens, here’s Film Pulse contributor Gina Kelly‘s picks. Some films unique to her list include Sarah Polley‘s Stories We Tell, David Lowery‘s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives. I could definitely see
first cousin once removed The contrasting comfort and horror of losing your memory, to know and not know at once, is the inherent reality of Alzheimer's Disease. If you are to experience it, you are afforded the relief in allowing yourself to forget your weaknesses, faults, and mistakes, but that is paired against the absolute threat of not knowing the person before you in the mirror, next to you at your house, or staring at you from a collection of photos on your mantel.
Release Date: TBD
Director: Sang-soo Hong
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 7/10
Sitting in the theater at the LA Film Festival's Gala screening of Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn gave a preface to the audience before letting the film roll. "I'm a pornographer, (audience laughs) and I like to make things that really excite me. So if Drive was a drug experience, I'd say that it was like the best cocaine you've ever had, and lots of it. With this film, I wasn't so much interested in cocaine as I was into LSD. Not the kind of LSD that makes you really happy and want to have a lot of sex and stuff like that, but the kind of LSD that makes you see really crazy things that aren't there, like sitting in the armchair and you just totally melt into it, you hear voices telling you really important things, you know, stuff like that."