Three years in the making, Matthew Wade’s How the Sky Will Melt has the distinction of being an extremely rare piece of cinema for its time. A feature-length filmed on Super 8mm released into a cinematic landscape overcrowded with digital films upon digital films. Wade’s debut definitely possesses a hook intriguing enough (Super 8!) to a garner a certain amount of curiosity. Although, the question of, does the film and its narrative contain enough substance to warrant a feature-length? or, are we merely working with nothing more than an overdrawn novelty?
A familiar setting populated with familiar personalities, Bliss and Rogers’ Fort Tilden is a rehash of several well-worn idea overly adorned with attempted pointed observations and situational set-pieces at home under a mountain of cynicism and self-absorption. Two friends, in tandem, tasked with the straightforward mission of reaching the beach before the day’s conclusion happens to be the narrative’s concern; a day long journey trekking across various New York neighborhoods, each with their own idiosyncrasies, for two twenty-somethings stuck in a state of arrested development.
Small town crime dramas of the Southern persuasion, with their glut of Southern-drawl colloquialisms liberally interspersed throughout a landscape of violent, homespun justice and double/triple crossings, are a familiar sight and Alex R. Johnson’s Two Step is as about as familiar as they come. A film populated with (just about) every element generally associated with crime narratives - idiom-heavy dialogue, vintage autos, inexplicable criminal networks, et al. - Two Step has it all, except for the one element it desperately needs - conviction.
Another Nina Hoss/Christian Petzold collaboration, this time a historical thriller of sorts set in the wake of World War II in the bombed-out shambles of Berlin with identity at the thematic forefront. A film dealing with reconciling with the past and moving forward during a desperate pursuit for the truth but, more importantly, a search for an identity and with it autonomy.
The docufiction concept seems to be in high demand as of late in the American Independent scene given the recent flush of films intent on blurring the lines between fiction and reality into oblivion. Using real world settings, along with the real-life people that inhabit those neighborhoods, filmmakers attempt to successfully plant a narrative within the confines of the world they wish to represent on-screen with varying results.
The entire affair that is Jason Banker's latest feature, Felt (co-written with Amy Everson), feels like a missed opportunity; which, as a whole, remain fairly common within the world of cinematic offerings. However, Banker and Everson's collaboration happens to deal with the difficulty existing in a rape culture society and its effect upon the film's main character. A significant, and undeniably challenging, issue to tackle effectively within the span of 80 minutes.
Thanatos, Drunk is a fairly straightforward narrative, a slice of life excursion through the nightclubs and narrow back-alleys of Taiwan. Underneath the fairly mundane day-to-day activities that comprise the surface level plotline lays an elaborate tapestry of emotional entanglements as guilt, pain, love and indifference wrestle within everyone day and night. All matter of existential struggles present themselves throughout the languid days, every new development or occurrence is yet another thread added to the complexities of the interconnected web being woven until everything, inevitably, comes to a head, unraveling all around those involved.
That’s a question you might ask yourself early on while watching Applesauce, the latest from writer/director Onur Tukel as it serves as the jumping off point for his tried and true brand of acerbic comedy. And, if you’re familiar with Tukel’s propensity to play rather unlikeable, yet somehow appealing, characters you might ask yourself “how in the world is Tukel playing a high school teacher?” Furthermore, what class demands him to teach these kids about empathy?
The majority of the film’s poignancy emanates from the graceful performance of Hadas Yaron as Meira, the lost soul routinely shamed and guilted for trivial transgressions, acquiescing into an involuntary solitude of sorts. Not to belittle the performances of the supporting cast (all of whom provide solid turns), but Yaron’s subtle, yet powerfully resounding, emotional portrayal is the heart and soul of Félix and Meira.
Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart ably carry their weight in the new film from writer/director Olivier Assayas which centers around a veteran actress, Maria Enders (Binoche), at the top of her international career set to appear in the same play that made her famous twenty years ago, but in a different role. The past, along with reflections of herself, as well as perspectives new and old swirl around her like the cloud phenomena of Sils Maria; spellbinding and nauseating all at the same time.
Something has changed in Ronnie (Yorick van Wageningen) as he no longer appears to be the bastard referred to in the title of Guido van Driel’s feature length debut. He seems calmer, less prone to sudden outbursts of gruesome violence, and the rough edges of his volatile personality have softened a bit. He might have picked up the ability of clairvoyance somewhere along the way. Yet it remains to be seen if Robbie truly has changed as a person as he searches for the man that left him for dead.
For Future Reference is a new feature in which we review and recommend festival films yet to be picked up for US distribution (although, hopefully, they will be in the near future). For our inaugural episode, I've chosen Guto Parente's The Mysterious Death of Pérola, an almost dialogue-free, snail's pace slow-burn murder mystery wherein subtle, unsettling imagery replaces more traditional scare tactics.
At once a history lesson via travelogue and a relationship drama of sorts, Eugène Green’s latest film, La Sapienza, oscillates between scholarly discourses on the subject of Roman Baroque architecture and the importance of remembering and incorporating elements of the past. What starts out as cold and mechanical slowly warms up, becoming enlivened from the same welcoming light that is discussed at length within.
Towards the end of Alonso’s latest affair of sweeping ambiguity, Jauja, there resides a character explaining a condition currently effecting a canine; a nervous reaction of sorts, a hot spot, brought about from the animal’s inability to understand something causing him to scratch himself furiously, irritating himself, injuring himself. This canine could easily be a representation of my own attempts at interpreting the ambiguity-rich quasi-narrative of Jauja, if only there was enough substance to warrant such sustained contemplation.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a devastating discovery, one that ignites a flurry of thoughts, a multitude of questions and concerns or it could elicit the opposite response - total shock shutdown. Either way, it’s an exhausting and emotionally draining existence in most cases as the person needs to deal with a number of issues that tag-along with a cancer diagnosis - questions regarding treatment options, medication and their side effects, surgeries, tests, work restrictions and so on. Now imagine during that initial flood of worries and what-ifs the first bit of follow-up news you receive is that the cancer has metastasized and it’s incurable.