Monday, November 28, 2011

My Effortless Brilliance and Troll Hunter

Lynn Shelton has caught my eye with this film. Anyone else seen anything else by her? I wasn't blown away by MEB, but I was moved. The setting for the film is absolutely perfect for its content. I don't know if this qualifies as mumblecore, but it seemed similar to me to other films in the category I've seen. It's basically about two male friends, one a semi-famous writer, reconnecting after a falling out. The writer--a city slicker through and through--tracks down his friend at his cabin in Washington and they spend a few days, along with a neighbor friend, talking and drinking and tracking cougars. There is tension between the two men and clearly incidents in the past that need to be discussed. But, in true stereotypical male fashion, none of this stuff gets discussed. Nevertheless, the relationship has healed somewhat by the end of the film, which leads you to believe there may be more to come. But even if there isn't, the moments they shared during those few days were significant for both of them.
Please don't read the summary of the film, however, and think you don't need to see it. First of all, the location is practically a character, it is so ever-present and obvious. Secondly, the dialogue, which is all improvised is sprinkled with humor, adding a counterbalance to the heaviness of the tension between the friends. I'd recommend this to all in film, but particularly Ben and Lisa.

I also saw Troll Hunter (on NWI), a really fun fake horror documentary in the vein of Blair Witch (but better, I think). It certainly is following a tradition established by BWP, continued by films like Cloverfield and Quarantine, but it stands on its own and adds to the genre as well. In this film, three college students working on a project start trailing a mysterious character who they believe to be a bear poacher. Turns out, however, it's not bear he's after, and very quickly the kids find themselves in over their heads in a reality they thought only existed in fairy tales. I was able to watch it with my wife and son as well, so it wasn't so scary that they couldn't enjoy it, but it had enough suspenseful monsteryness to satsify my horror lust. Also recommended. It's Norwegian, by the way, and frequently features the spectacular beauty of the landscape there.

Given this film and MEB, I've been noting how the use of location can add different textures to different films, even given the same type of scenery. Hey, here's a thought--can anybody else think of any movies where the setting really makes a difference in a film's success of failure? Meek's Cutoff is another good example of location as character. Also The New World (or anything by Malick, really). Are there other directors who are particularly good at using setting to tell their stories? Discuss.

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