Yesterday, a brand new crop of Filmmaking MFA students appeared before me at Ohio University, as suddenly as Fall weather. It’s that time – August is gone, baby, and us teachers are back in the classroom. One exercise conducted yesterday involved each person articulating what he or she values in the cinema – not a specific type of character or scene, but a methodology, strategy or approach that can be identified from film to film. I noted a pattern: many valued the experience of feeling surprised – when the storyteller crafted moments that veered from a familiar course with either plot or character (INCENDIES, above, does just this). Our collective expectations have been molded through years of watching films, so an innovation of form, complexity of plot or sophistication of character truly do deserve value. I thought back to my own summer movie-going experiences and measured how a few stacked up. Watch out, hold up – the teacher is giving out grades:
THE DOUBLE HOUR
There’s a fantastic indie thriller now playing in limited release, and if you have a chance to see it, you SHOULD. It’s THE DOUBLE HOUR, and features a wonderful performance by Russian actress Kseniya Rappoport, who won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. An Italian romantic thriller with undertones in both noir and psychological drama, this film has more loop-de-loops plot-wise than anything else I’ve seen lately. The movie also manages to seamlessly integrate fairly disparate elements and events – affecting a bizarre, pleasurable experience that will definitely keep you guessing.