What makes a family? That question is at the heart of Sundance Channel’s film offerings this week. Is it the assumed acceptance of a wife who clearly does not fit into her married family (JUNEBUG)? Or that last, dearest connection to a beloved pet, when all other strings have frayed away (WENDY AND LUCY)? What about the complex machinations of an intellectual family dealing with the dissolution of a marriage (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE)? It’s all these things and more.
Wendy and Lucy
For a while there was a popular meme involving cats and slices of bread. That might be a reason to give up the Internet entirely, but some (bored?) cat owners began photographing their cats with slices of bread worn around their seemingly content furry feline heads. Well, now (disobedient) dogs are in the meme spotlight. Dog owners have been submitting photos of their misbehaving pooches with signs explaining their misdeed over at Dog Shaming. Hey, dogs that dig through the trash: Just because you are known as “man’s best friend” doesn’t exclude you from taking responsibility for naughty behavior. That said, it is tough to stay mad too long at these dogs — aw, look at that face!
I’m gearing up for Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF this spring, and in preparation, sought out a film of hers I’d not yet seen, the 2008 release WENDY AND LUCY. It’s such a simple and effective piece, beautifully rendered visually. It’s also driven significantly by sound. Dialogue operates here mostly at the level of basic function (“Where’s the nearest garage?” “I lost my dog.” “How much will that cost?”), allowing the sound design of trains and traffic to enhance the tension in quiet dramatic turning points of epiphany or realization, as Wendy’s situation worsens. As the film basically asks us to linger with the protagonist moment to moment, replicating the feeling of real time, it reminded me of another young-woman-in-trouble-in-slow-motion-film, A SINGLE GIRL (Benoit Jacques, 1995).