As far as I can tell there is no easily distinguishable through-line of theme, no thought provocation, and/or contemplation prompts that necessitate a film of this structure outside of the potential it possesses as an inspiration for future avant-garde filmmakers; showing that the production of experimental cinema is always within reach, it is just as simple as filming some friends, some still-life and sporadically manipulating some images.
Goodbye Philippines seems reticent to build upon its aesthetical/thematic choice of projecting the memories of a man back onto the landscape of the world he has left behind; perhaps, it is a comment on the inability to move on, being stuck in limbo of mourning and moving forward but Goodbye Philippines can, at times, feel a bit one-note in its exploration. However, that one note is pleasing.
The film, a short clocking in at 13 minutes, unfurls like a photo album perusal as historical document and/or essay as stagnant frames capture the vacant landscapes of a once, bustling company town in the Cousins Inlet of British Columbia. The 16mm facade delighting in the convergence of vegetation that has reclaimed the abandoned buildings and desolate factories, gently swaying in the breezes blowing through the open lobbies as if in performance; unused window panes nothing more than frames for the persevering picturesque.
Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan’s enigmatic debut, For The Plasma, seemingly about everything and nothing all at the same time rests at the intersection of cerebral over-complication and tongue-in-cheek, lo-fi jaunt, all on a nearly non-existent indie budget. The film’s playful avoidance of categorization or its incessant need to avoid any normal, discernible narrative path will surely have viewers, either, reveling in the ambiguity of it all or steadily growing ever more exasperated by its opaque nature.
Michael DiBiasio’s The Videoblogs is a difficult to watch; not because it lacks the technical proficiency needed but because it deals directly with the subject of mental health and when I say directly, I mean head-on, face-to-face directly. It is because of this approach, this intimately direct approach, that the film can be somewhat uncomfortable at times as you might get the feeling that you are privy to what should be private moments.
A miscellany of genres presented with a potpourri of visual stylings, Momoko Andô’s 0.5mm emulsifies screwball comedy and affecting drama into one epic emotional traversing across generational divides. Entrance into the lives of these pensioners is reluctantly granted through stereotypes and book-cover judgments then coaxed via blackmail into living arraignments that, in turn, give way to complex character portraits of lonely men in the diminuendo of life, cast aside from society and left to wilt away in their homes.
People looking and/or expecting a plethora of extra features from the Criterion Collection on their newest Blu-ray release of Arthur Hiller’s The In-Laws might be fairly disappointed; not only in terms of quantity but maybe even in terms of quality. Outside of the audio commentary and the accompanying booklet, the supplements are a bit sparse although many may be content with the simple fact that there exists a Blu-ray edition of The In-Laws.
Actor/producer/writer/director/editor/[insert any other film production job title here] Frank Mosley has had a hand in number of films over the past couple of years in the American Independent scene, appearing in Upstream Color, Sabbatical, Some Beasts and Collective: Unconscious, just to name a few. His latest feature, Her Wilderness (which appeared on my Best Undistributed of 2015 list), has been released on Fandor; along with his debut, Hold, and his 2013 short film, Two Story, which he wrote with Lee Luna.
Setting, what is essentially, a buddy comedy within the timeline of the Civil War seems like a novel idea (and it is) but what makes Zachary Treitz and Kate Lyn Sheil’s film truly distinctive is their ability to blend a somber exploration of human inadequacies in and around the antics of the bumbling Brothers Mellon; where rejection is catalyst for bad decisions and one’s inability to connect with the world might lead them to join the Union Army.
Minimalist may be the sturdiest of descriptors for Mosley’s sophomore effort with dialogue sparse and connectivity between actions remaining faint and ill-defined. All possibilities of potential meanings/readings hold an embedded residence with the viewer which is true of most films, but even more so with Mosley’s since he leaves everything open to interpretation. All character motivations and development (even the interconnectivity of the characters themselves) are represented as merely vapors, dispersed over the course of the film.
Considering Gondry’s reputation, born out of these inclinations and affinities, a certain expectation might exist when going into a film titled, Microbe & Gasoline; a film centering around two adolescent males and their budding friendship that leads the two of them to construct a homemade gardening shed/go-kart hybrid vehicle to gain independence, spending the summer gallivanting around France in search of adventure.
The passion behind Nicholas Bateman’s feature-length debut, The Circus Animals, is certainly evident throughout; one could go insofar as labelling the passion palpable or tangible, in a way, since it saturates every character interaction within every scene. It’s a film that admittedly wears its heart on its proverbial sleeve as every opportunity to thrust the emotion to the forefront is met with an eagerness that is situated as one of the film’s main strengths and, ultimately, its weakness all at once.
An unidentified war rages in the vicinity of an unidentified location within an unidentified time period in Aaron Schimberg’s directorial debut, Go Down Death, a cinematic adaptation based on the fabricated writings of folklorist Jonathan Mallory Sinus; a fluid traversing of vignettes, punctuated by mortar shells and rocket explosions, hosted by a collection of eccentrics killing time in their own ways.
With Green, her directorial debut, actress/producer Sophia Takal has taken the surface-level simplicity of the film’s thematic frame and transformed it into a nuanced exploration of inferred motivations and assumed objectives through a gradual probing of seemingly harmless interactions (both verbal and nonverbal), examining the psychological impact of insecurity, envy and jealousy.
Manatos buries the addiction thread underneath the reconnection attempts of two estranged siblings - Cullen (Leo Fitzpatrick) and Ian (Cris Lankenau) - tentatively groping for entry-points with little to no success, sub/consciously hopeful that nostalgia and adolescent replays might broker the reparative bond they are after.
1950’s In a Lonely Place marks the second film from Nicholas Ray’s oeuvre to garner the Criterion treatment (Bigger Than Life from 1956 being the other) and one can only hope that the Criterion Collection are working their way towards acquiring more of Ray’s work.