Five films, six highly personal stories this week (one film actually has two distinct plots). Yes, even our one big-name Hollywood film is really just about a regular guy (who happens to look just like Harrison Ford) trying to do right by his wife. This is what storytelling in film is all about. Which leads us to…
This week we delve into our darkest fears and deepest desires with films about alienation, death, love, sex and… improper surgical techniques? Luckily, not all in the same film. Like this crazy month of December so far, our films are running hot and cold this week, from the blazing Arizona sun of SEX MAGIC to the North Dakota/Minnesota snow and ice of FARGO and points in between.
Autumn is now in full effect — the carefree days of summer are behind us and we’re left to ponder the oncoming cold and the meaning of our existence as we watch campaign ad after campaign ad. To us, that makes the season all about two things: complicated relationships… and elections. Thankfully, we’ve got the appropriate films for any occasion. We’re an all-season network!
A new installation by Italian art collective Quiet Ensemble will have you looking at your goldfish bowl in a whole new way. Called “Quintetto,” the collective took five enormous water tanks, each harboring a cheery little fishy, and videotaped their movements. A custom software program then interpreted their (generally pretty erratic) motion to produce subtle electronic sounds that change depending on the position, orientation or direction of the fish. The resulting songs are surprisingly beautiful, even kind of soothing. The sort of thing you would listen to in the bathtub, contemplating buying a goldfish.
Last night I ventured out to see XMEN: FIRST CLASS. It’s a big, big world. Its cast? Many arrived by way of much smaller worlds. As I watched, it struck me: What artist gets to participate in such completely different modes of making other than the film actor, who, if lucky and smart, goes from Hollywood to Indiewood or vice versa? A musician may be the closest – from orchestra to a more edgy or experimental gig? But an orchestra ain’t Hollywood. A new media artist who moonlights at Microsoft or Google? Nope, not art. Maybe XMEN isn’t art either – but the actor brings the same set of tools to the table when approaching something like XMEN or a teeny tiny film, in order to make his or her… art. Two of the XMEN stars are recent graduates of indie hits. Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) starred in the Sundance film WINTER’S BONE, wherein she brought nuance and grace to her role as Dee. Michael Fassbender has the bigger role in this big world, though, as the tortured Magnito. Fassbender recently starred as a duplicitous and ethically-challenged player-bloke in Andrea Arnold’s coming of age story FISH TANK, and he brought a great sense of humanity to his Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s excellent JANE EYRE. He’s also listed on imdb as one of the stars of Jim Jarmusch’s next film. How must it be to coexist in these worlds?
One of the more interesting characters on the screen right now is the angry, vulnerable and directionless Mia (Katie Jarvis) in the British film FISH TANK, directed by Andrea Arnold (currently screening at IFC Center). A 15 year old girl clothed in baggy sweat suits, Mia spends her free time drinking liquor and practicing awkward dance moves by herself. She’s looking for expression and it spills out through her rage as she tumbles through mistakes and near scrapes with disaster with a kind of tough resilience that would make you want to hug her… if you weren’t worried about her breaking your nose.