Michael M. Bilandic – Hellaware (2013)


Jaded by the “incestuous, New York, socialite sh_t” that sells at prominent art galleries, Nate embarks on a quest for a more authentic brand of contemporary art. When a coked-up YouTube search leads to a music video from Delawarean Goth rappers Young Torture Killers, an Insane Clown Posse knock-off, Nate knows he’s found his subjects. He soon drags his friend-with-benefits Bernadette to rural Delaware to shoot the group playing in their parents’ basement. To “immerse himself” in the group’s culture and add an extra layer of realism to his work, Nate befriends the rappers and makes return trips to get to know them. But as his relationship with group develops, he becomes increasingly aware that, while you can take the boy out of the art world, you can’t take the art world out of the boy. Continue reading

Matthew Porterfield – Take What You Can Carry (2015)


A character study as well as a meditation on communication, creativity, and physical space, Take What You Can Carry is a picture of a young woman seen through the interiors she occupies and the company she keeps. A North American living abroad, Lilly aspires to shape an intimate and private place of her own while connecting to the world around her. When she receives a letter from home, it provides the conduit she needs to fuse her transient self with the person she’s always known herself to be. Continue reading

Josephine Decker – Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014)


Thou Wast Mild and Lovely is the wildly imaginative and unexpected second feature from US indie director Josephine Decker. The film is the creepy, erotic tale of married man Akin (Joe Swanberg) who takes a summer season job working as a ranch hand on a remote Kentucky cattle ranch.

Akin craves isolation and here he has only the deranged farmer and his strange, earthy daughter for company. While he can’t make sense of their world – full of inappropriate urges and simmering menace and lust – it’s also clear that he’s not so straightforward; he harbours secrets back at home. Continue reading

Barry Jenkins – Medicine for Melancholy (2008)


“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)


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)


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)


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