Aaron Katz' COLD WEATHER
Both COLD WEATHER and LOVERS OF HATE, two IFC / Sundance Selects releases, made it to my local-art-house-theatre-in-the-boonies in the past two weeks. I had seen LOVERS OF HATE (director Bryan Poyser) at SXSW last year, and enjoyed it – in all of its high-concept-low-budget-plot-dependent-character glory. COLD WEATHER (Aaron Katz) is harder to categorize and is, simply, a very unusual film. Is this good? Yes! Is this bad? Yes, as well.
Hailed by the critics as the world’s first mumblecore-indie-noir, it’s compelling for its bold pairings – slacker dialogue with investigative prowess, going-nowhere 20-somethings with dangerous criminals who have real goals. It’s tiring, however, for its insistence on a certain archetype: the white guy who can’t figure out his life. In this case, that’s protagonist Doug (Cris Lankenau), a former forensic science major who’s back in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, kicking around looking for work. Why does this archetype always have a few women around him who are decidedly together? Why can’t archetype answer a simple question? (“What do you think about ____?” “Um, I don’t know….” “What should we do now?” “Um, I don’t know….” Even the way “I don’t know” is delivered is without strong intention.) The aimlessness gets old … yet in this case it provides a contrast so stark to Doug’s actions in the third act that it’s somehow redeeming. I can see how this is a small system at work, two halves of the film in opposition – but I still long for the nice guy with few answers to make some decisions.