Barry Jenkins – Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

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“Everything about being indie is tied to not being black,” says Micah (Wyatt Cenac), half of the accidental kind-of couple whose one-day romance is chronicled in “Medicine for Melancholy.” He is making an observation — and also registering a complaint — about the quasi-bohemian way of life he shares with Jo’ (Tracey Heggins), his temporary other half. It bothers Micah that their embrace of the folkways of urban hipsterism seems to require the suppression of their African-American identity.

But his words, which Jo’ doesn’t quite agree with, also suggest a degree of self-awareness, and self-questioning, on the part of Barry Jenkins, who wrote and directed this small, incisive film. Most recent movies about culturally savvy, affectless 20-somethings hooking up and being cool are very much tied to not being black. They are about diffident, underemployed white boys and the women who (sometimes inexplicably) go to bed with them. Continue reading

Ry Russo-Young – You Won’t Miss Me (2009)

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Synopsis
A woman struggling with a number of emotional demons tries to make sense of her life in this independent drama from writer and director Ry Russo-Young. Shelly Brown (Stella Schnabel) is the 23-year-old daughter of a woman with a long history of mental illness. Shelly has unfortunately inherited some of her mother’s instability, and the narrative follows her after she’s released from a brief stay in a mental hospital. Shelly dreams of a career as an actress, but at auditions she delivers readings that are intense enough to scare off most casting directors. Shelly wants to bond with other young women in the arts, but her paranoia and multiple insecurities make her a difficult friend at best and few of her peers are willing to bother. And while Shelly thinks she’s ready for a relationship, the manner in which she approaches men tends to result in rejections or one-night stands. Continue reading

Kentucker Audley – Open Five (2010)

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A blend of reality and fiction, “Open Five” follows the story of Jake, a struggling musician and his sidekick, Kentucker, a maker of “poor” films and what happens when two girls (Lucy and Rose) venture down to Memphis for a long weekend. Written by K Audley

“a loamy, bittersweet ramble through the emotional and practical tangles of its young artists’ lives, as well as through the inner and outer life of Memphis itself, with its vigorous musical scene and its gospel churches and Graceland itself. Open Five should be distributed and made available on a big screen at a local movie theatre; in any case, its free online presence is a rare gift.”
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“The best American film of the year”
Craig Keller, Cinemasparagus Continue reading

Lynn Shelton – Humpday (2009)

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College buddies Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Justin Leonard) are reunited in Seattle when the latter comes crashing into his pal’s marital bliss, in more ways than one. As a kind of bet – Andrew is involved in a porn-themed art project – they agree it would be pretty far out if two straight men were to have sex on camera. While drunk, they volunteer and set a date.
In the cold light of day, neither wants to be the one to back down: the funniest idea in Lynn Shelton’s bracing, superbly-acted low-budget comedy is how this now-or-never challenge becomes a clinching test of machismo. Ben knows his wife (Alycia Delmore) is never going to be cool with it, and bottles out of asking. To be fair, the film does a fair amount of squirming itself, but not before giving honest and hilarious thought to the carnal intricacies of the whole project. Continue reading

Baltasar Kormákur – Mýrin aka Jar City (2006)

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Mýrin is based on a best-selling novel by Arnaldur Indriðason.
While a desperate, young father tries to find out what led to the death of his five year old girl, Inspector Erlendur investigates the murder of an elderly loner in a run-down basement flat. The investigation takes an unexpected turn when forensic evidence leads him on a trail of the past. Continue reading

Susanne Bier – Elsker dig for evigt AKA Open Hearts (2002)

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Quote:
Cecilie is devastated when her fiance Joachim is seriously injured in a car accident and is paralysed from the waist down. She begins an affair with Niels, a doctor at the hospital where Joachim is being treated. Their relationship is further complicated by the fact that the doctor’s wife Marie was the driver that caused the accident in the first place. Continue reading

Fatih Akin – Auf der anderen Seite aka The Edge of Heaven (2007)

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Nejat seems disapproving about his widower father Ali’s choice of prostitute Yeter for a live-in girlfriend. But he grows fond of her when he discovers she sends money home to Turkey for her daughter’s university studies. Yeter’s sudden death distances father and son. Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Yeter’s daughter Ayten. Political activist Ayten has fled the Turkish police and is already in Germany. She is befriended by a young woman, Lotte, who invites rebellious Ayten to stay in her home, a gesture not particularly pleasing to her conservative mother Susanne. When Ayten is arrested and her asylum plea is denied, she is deported and imprisoned in Turkey. Lotte travels to Turkey,where she gets caught up in the seemingly hopeless situation of freeing Ayten. Continue reading