All the way back in April, Sandra and I went to the Boston Independent Film Festival. All of the screenings we went to were in Somerville, MA, at the Somerville Theater. I was only there for one day, but it’s a great festival! I saw Prince Avalanche, Persistence of Vision, Much Ado About Nothing, and Frances Ha. You can look forward to three of these films at Images this summer.
Frances Ha (starts Friday, June 28)
I was super excited to see Frances Ha. Not only does it come from director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, co-writer of The Fantastic Mr. Fox), but it was co-written and starring Greta Gerwig, an actress I love for her fresh, friendly enthusiasm and earnestness. Her face is always a ray of sunshine in whatever film I see her in.
Frances Ha is miles away from Gerwig’s mumblecore roots, despite being the story of twentysomethings in New York. I see this as a good thing. It’s wonderfully un-wallowing, and it’s pleasant to be in these people’s company. We aren’t set up to laugh at Frances, but to fall in love with her. I love the films low budget black and white high energy, it’s departure from Baumbach’s usual feel bad comedy, its crazy good soundtrack (esp David Bowie’s Modern Love), it’s non-romance center romanticness, and how current and real it feels.
I just went to see it again at the Berkshire International Film Festival this weekend, and it held up to a second viewing. I enjoyed it even more the second time around, and I totally was dancing in my seat by the end.
Much Ado About Nothing
My experience of going to see this film is a funny one. When I picked up my tickets, I was informed that I should arrive one hour in advance to line up for the film, which was fine. I think I arrived 90 minutes prior to the film’s start time, to find a line that snaked all the way down the side of the building, around the back of the building, and then down another block. As I stood in line, the line doubled in length behind me. It was clearly the first time this film festival had to deal with such a long line, as they dealt with the logistics of maneuvering this giant line. When everyone was finally seated, and the organizers came out on stage to introduce the film, they presented a fresh-baked pie to the first person to line up for the film, 4 hours in advance of the film’s start time. Naively, I had no idea Joss Whedon’s fan base was so large, or so dedicated. I like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, but I’m not a fan of the Avengers, and I skipped everything else he’s made.
So, regarding Much Ado About Nothing, I thought it was fun, and I think people will enjoy it, but Kenneth Branagh, it is not.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. Director David Gordon Green has a sketchy record. His first film, George Washington, is a slow-paced, naturalistic story of kids in the rural south, that invited comparisons to Terrence Malick. It was followed by four additional Malick-ish films (one even produced by Malick). Then came Pineapple Express, a stoner comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco (before James Franco was everywhere – I actually think his performance in this film is his best one). It was a good stoner comedy, but still, a stoner comedy, and therefore completely different from everything he had done until that point. I read that he was fed up with independent film not finding an audience, but still, that’s an extreme about-face. After Pineapple Express, he made two other films I ignored because they looked awful.
And then Prince Avalanche came along. And it’s the best of both worlds. He really nails the scenes of solitude in nature, both the revery it can bring, and the loneliness. But the interpersonal interactions of the two main characters, played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, as they lurch from hilarious odd couple bickering to real friendship, are equally well rendered. David Gordon Green was able to successfully marry his two divergent impulses into one project, and it works really well. I hope DGG will make more movies like this.
The Persistence of VisionI loved this movie. It’s a documentary about Richard Williams, a visionary animator who for various reasons could never finish his grand opus, despite success animating Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Unfortunately we won’t be showing this film at Images, at least not at this time.
Films like this are what make film festivals necessary. Not every movie is commercially viable (perhaps including Richard Williams long in the making, never finished film), but there should still be the opportunity to see films like it. At Images, we try to show as much as we can, but as a single screen cinema, we alas, cannot show everything!