I hit the movie theatre hard this week and never want to see a bag of popcorn ever again. But I did experience some impressive and incredible locally produced and international films. Also, do not miss David Cronenberg’s critically acclaimed Maps to the Stars on Thursday night. Here are my top 5 so far:
Howard & Jean (Dir. Heather Young, 6 minutes)
There is a true simplicity and an easy but frightening silence in Dartmouth director Heather Young’s self-produced short, Howard & Jean. Young’s execution of cinematic pathos is marvelous for a six-minute two-character film, accomplished by the intimate lingering shots and the honesty of the situation. It made me cry. Sometimes the only thing you have is a little dog and everything that little dog has is you.
Relative Happiness (Dir. Deanne Foley, 94 minutes)
Based on a novel by Lesley Crewe, Relative Happiness is a dramatic rom-com filmed in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, made by the strength of performances by the supporting female cast. Denying a flat Hollywood portrayal of womanhood, Foley presented all the ways in which women experience shame: the layers of infidelity, the struggle for confidence, the assertion of sexuality. Women do and say and rationalize just about anything to avoid judgement, but the film’s message was that we have absolutely nothing to fear.
Saving Face (Dir. Glen Matthews, 16 minutes)
Give me that fucking wrestle movie or give me death. Local actor and director Glen Matthews presents the dramatic myth of pro wrestling and the dynamic of good and evil in the tag-team of Red and Blue. The binary is paralleled by crisp shots and clean lines. The most compelling element was the portrayal of wrestling’s deeper psychology: it’s still real to me, dammit. Saving Face is the ultimate wrestle fantasy.
Rainbow Valley (Dirs. Patrick Callbeck & Alexis Bulman, 42 minutes)
Part regional doc, part childhood memory, Rainbow Valley introduces the staff and visitors of PEI’s now-closed private theme park. The storytelling style is matter-of-fact, through interviews and home-videos from families as far as Massachusetts. The park itself was the glorious result of ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurship that touched generations of tourists and locals; the film is very much the same.
It Follows (Dir. David Robert Mitchell, 97 minutes)
Vintage horror movies are often minimalist, which intensifies the threat since real danger is possible. While there are paranormal features of It Follows, as a meditative metaphor on sex and technology, the decayed Detroit setting and very disturbing graphic imagery took this film to an extremely unsettling level. The score by Disasterpiece summoned Carpenter’s teen slashers and I had to get a cab home.