By: Henry J. Fromage –
This week sees the likely end to my film festival screener cache for a decent period of time, but I went out with a relative bang with this eclectic set of films.
183. Free and Easy
This Chinese arthouse oddity plays something like Napoleon Dynamite transposed to an even shittier place than rural Idaho (in this case, China’s industrial north) and played at half speed. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a recommendation, but I thoroughly enjoyed this thoroughly unique small-time criminal comedy, which seems to have more to say about the present Chinese psyche than many a more high-profile drama out there.
184. Tiger Girl
This German punk rock tale of two bad girls on different trajectories of badness is positively dripping with style and attitude, and serves as one hell of a showcase for the talents of Ella Rumpf, Maria-Victoria Dragus, and director Jakob Lass. I’m not sure it has a whole hell of a lot more to say than “Chaos Reigns!”, but that’s all good. Nobody’s gonna mistake any of these characters as role models, and the diamond-studded misanthropy sure is an engaging watch.
This documentary delves into the 78 setups and 52 cuts that make up the seminal shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which director Alexandre O. Philippe and his seeming cast of hundreds of filmmaking luminaries posit represented a paradigm shift in at least American film from the restraint of Classic Hollywood and the violence and realism of New Hollywood. If you’re a film junkie, you’re sure to be fascinated by the varying levels of analysis of this moment in film history.
186. The Transfiguration
This film starts off with a bang into an interesting enough premise- a inner-city New York youth who at least thinks he’s a vampire, and certainly acts on those impulses. What it unfortunately does is ladle on indie-film cliches like gangster bullies and a character I’d like to call the Manic Pixie Fuckup Girl to bolster a plot that feels only somewhat tied to the vampirism that is ostensibly this film’s hook. An overall miss despite its seemingly unique aims.
Kathyrn Bigelow and Mark Boal brought their same docurealist approach that characterized the impact of Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker to the 1967 Detroit Riots and the lamentable Algiers Hotel incident, in which three young black men lost their lives and seven others and two young white women were harassed, tortured, and severely beaten by some combination of Detroit PD, Michigan State Police, and the National Guard, along with a private security guard (John Boyega in the film) caught in the middle. I frankly wish this wasn’t nearly as relevant to the present day as it is, but over the course of two and a half hours Detroit makes clear the history and culture that contributed to this horror, and why similar horrors plague American society to this day.