The poster for writer/director Theodore Collatos’s newest film, Tormenting the Hen, has arrived just before the film is set to have its world premiere at the Independent Film Festival of Boston this April 28th. Collatos (Brokenhorsefilms.org) is no stranger to the pages of FilmPulse. His first feature, Dipso, was covered as an inclusion for Unsung Indies; his latest short film, Albatross, appeared on my year-end overview of worthwhile short films from 2016; and even this film was featured as a Kickstart Sunday some time ago and also as a part of a discussion I had with the director back in October of last year.
At the center of Joanna Arnow’s short, Bad at Dancing, which she wrote, directed and edited, is an unhealthy relationship between two roommates - Joanna (also Arnow) and Isabel (Eleanore Pienta). Or, it may be completely healthy, who is to judge...besides, perhaps, Isabel’s boyfriend, Matt (Keith Poulson), who is growing increasingly uncomfortable with Joanna’s penchant for inserting herself into his relationship with Isabel, typically when the two of them are trying to have sex. Which appears to be the most opportune time for Joanna to discuss any a number of subject revolving around herself with her best friend; obviously, the opposite is true for Isabel and Matt.
All things familiar, yet all things becoming increasingly sinister, Clark seems to have crafted a sci-fi horror/mystery film with no real, concrete horror elements. Instead, inundating the storyline with plenty of mystery, mystery piled atop mystery. A straightforward narrative film stalked and accosted by the experimental with Clark’s experimental imagery insinuating a cinematic approximation of the metaphysical as flashes of light cycle chaotic, reasoning and context seemingly lost in its rapid shuffle, abstraction deployed as the narrative catalyst.
If you are looking for one of the best comedic directors working today then look no further than Christopher Good. His debut feature, Mudjackin’, from 2013 happens to be one of the best comedies to come out within the last decade and after spending the last three years mainly directing music videos, for various acts like PWR BTTM, Jens Lekman, and Strand of Oaks, he is back with yet another comedic offering bursting with creativity.
Olga Hepnarová was the last woman to be executed in Czechoslovakia back in 1975, convicted of murder after she deliberately drove a truck onto the sidewalk, running over several citizens that happened to be waiting for the tram. Eight people died, twelve people were injured. Kazda and Weinreb’s film, I, Olga Hepnarová, is based on this true story and utilizes the real-life writings of the condemned. With that, an immediate question arises - why and for what purpose?
There is nothing fancy about Bloomin Mud Shuffle, the latest from writer/director Frank V. Ross. No high concept or high drama; there is no sensationalizing the alcoholism and depression that is set in at the core of the narrative’s fabric. It is stripped of adornments and embellishments, stripped down into glimpses of a life not overtly suffering from these issues but more so continuing in spite of these issues. It is not flashy because there is no reason for Ross to employ flash considering the way in which he is able to quietly mine genuine emotion from day-to-day minutiae of life.
With Valeria, Vassilopoulos taps into the inherent peculiarity of Eva’s ordeal, opting to focus on the most immediate question one would probably have after receiving someone else’s skin for one’s own face: who was this person? The film tackles the idea of transference and how a transplant can fundamentally change a person. With all of this, Vassilopoulos encapsulates the film with an air of mystery, from the overall tone to the lighting and the cinematography from Mia Cioffi Henry. All of it feels otherworldly, much like you would imagine it feeling if you had someone else’s face as your face.
Multi-hyphenate Frank Mosley’s latest short film, Parthenon, (which he wrote, directed and edited) will be playing as a part of the just-announced Sarasota Film Festival lineup. We’ve featured much of his work over the past few years. His
Jubilation and revelry mark the beginning of Mother of George, the sophomore film from Andrew Dosunmu, as rhythmic drum beats and congregational singing usher the viewer through a traditional Nigerian wedding ceremony; a joyous procession shimmering in gilded light, illuminating golden headdresses and majestic robes of purple, bearing witness to the union of Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé). It is an occasion steeped in the merriment of hope and cheer for the promising future that now lays before them, one hopefully filled with good health and financial success but, most importantly and above all, one filled with healthy children.
The title of writer/director Onur Tukel’s latest is fairly straightforward, perhaps a bit of an understatement as a descriptor, but straightforward nonetheless. Catfight has catfights; more than one, actually. Although, the catfights contained within Catfight are not your stereotypical, garden variety physical altercations between females that would warrant that label. There is no hair-pulling or face-scratching. There is nothing but an abundance of pure, unfettered brutality inflicted upon the faces of the film’s co-leads.
Erwin is not only the focus but he seems to overwhelm the frame at every turn; the repertoire of his three expressions always extending out past the confines. One being the computer-gaming trance of glazed-over eyes, pixelated Vikings hacking and slashing reflected in his glasses; the other, an exasperated long-face of frustration and, finally, the resting inactivity of slumber. The presentation of these personal states of Erwin, in claustrophobic close-up, point to the possibility of two perspectives; one from the viewer and one from Erwin himself.
All throughout, in directing and writing, Ambs tries to match the beauty of the scenery with fluid camera movements to imbue grace and a voiceover that is sobering in its solemnity (complemented by the score from Eluvium). The cinematography does well in keeping the somewhat redundant imagery from growing stale. The camera is patient, usually fixed on our cyclist but occasionally breaking free; panning away from the open road, as if rubbernecking to witness the beauty of the landscape, inserting the viewer in the trip but also capturing the sights for McKurtis himself as his focus is pin-pointed on the unfurling white line before him.
Movement reigns in the feature-length debut from writer/director Celia Rowlson-Hall; unsurprisingly, given her background in dance (most recently as a movement consultant on Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits) which she utilizes to great effect within her modern reimagining of Mother Mary’s pilgrimage. There is an airy feel to the proceedings of Ma; a narrative which more so resembles a sequencing of transient creative impulses, both quick and chaotic, with lingering respites of meditative artistry detached from any standard, straightforward storytelling mode. Suggestive in nature yet with one clear imperative: movement is key.
When it comes to the Criterion Collection’s contemporary titles, the majority of their selection happen to be male filmmakers. Established male filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, the Dardenne brothers or, say, Michael Haneke. All of which are rather safe picks; all a bit mainstream, essentially. However, this time around they have seemed to break from their comfort zone, releasing Kirsten Johnson’s highly-regarded feature, Cameraperson, which appeared on a multitude of best-of lists from last year. Here it is presented in a new high-definition digital master, alongside a handful of well-crafted supplements that offer considerable insight into the production of the film.