It's been a while since my last proper review and I thought I'd use the occasion to write about two films that I've been meaning to write about for a while. They've both been sent to me by two different indie film makers, who funnily asked me to review them almost the same time. That was one of the first times I felt that blogging actually has some material advantages, something you can touch. Like a free DVD. That's pretty cool for a poor student.
Wild Girl Waltz
Written and directed by MARK LEWIS
WILD GIRL WALTZ is a light-hearted comedy set in the middle of nowhere, centering around three friends who have an exceptionally messy time together. It also strikes some more profound notes in the middle of all the madness and despite some technical "flaws" I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
BFFs Tara (Samantha Steinmetz) and Angie (Christina Shipp) are tired of the boredom of their lives in a small (read: mini) town and decide to try out some funny-looking little pills Tara got from a friend. When Tara's husband Brian (Jared Stern) walks into the party, his conscience forces him to take care of the two ladies and play the babysitter for a day.
As I said, there are some technical flaws to this movie, such as the camera being a little overly shaky at times and some unfortunate editing. The overall look of the film is surprisingly lush though - bright colours, a lot of natural-looking lighting and very sharp images. The combination of these two sides of the cinematography give the movie sort of a mixed atmosphere - realistic yet not in a reality TV kind of way. I think I liked that.
What really makes the movie special to me though is the acting. The trio gave it all they could give and the performances feel fresh and mature at the same time. Some of the scenes are simply priceless, for example when Tara and Brian imitate an old couple fighting with some really bad American country-side kind-of accents - I was on the floor laughing. Most of the funniest scenes went to Angie though, and Christina Shipp shines as a frustrated, somewhat child-like woman. Sometimes I worried she'd go over the top too much, but then she just managed to bend it the right way. After all, there's a lot of freedom when it comes to portraying being high, because every drug is kind of different (I hear). Even the two pills in the movie don't have the exact same effect on the girls.
This brings me to the writing, which is almost perfect for a light comedy. Sure, there could have been made some cuts here and there but in a nutshell the movie was entertaining all the time. It was mainly situationally comic, which is my favourite kind - I'm not much into slapstick unless it's executed in a Chaplin sort of way. Some of the situations and jokes had a sitcom-ish feel to it, which was okay for me, being a big fan of How I Met Your Mother and otherwise enjoying ordinary (HIMYM is not ordinary) sitcoms for what they are. Light entertainment. Not necessarily equal to forgettable, as they often have moments you'll revisit inside your head afterwards. And it was really the same with WILD GIRL WALTZ.
Of course, being a movie, there were some longer and more deep sequences in the movie than you would have in your usual sitcom. Many moments of simply staring into nothing and occasionally exchanging a sentence or two. It was a nice change for a comedy, as opposed to the ones where there's something happening all the time.
So if you enjoy indie movies and especially indie comedies, I whole-heartedly recommend this movie to you. It's easy, it's funny and it's... well... free. If you ask Mark Lewis really nicely, I'm sure he'll send you a copy. He's a nice guy, judging from the emails. Good luck to you, Mark, in case you're reading this!
IT'S A STRAWBERRY!
Written and directed by ELIAS
GUT is much more than WILD GIRL WALTZ. But it's also much less. It's a horror mystery-thriller about two guys who watch a snuff film that is goes on to change their lives. It's also friggin boring, but we'll get to that later on.
I personally didn't know what exactly a snuff film is before I started writing this review, and as usually wikipedia puts it best: „a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation“. Basically, it's a movie in which a real murder of a real person is shown. The two protagonists of GUT stumble onto a movie of that kind, because one of them (the one with the glasses) is obsessed with zombie movies and similar, B-movies to be general. So they watch a series of movies in which women have their stomachs slit up and die due to that. And apparently this turns them on. But they're scared. So they try to get rid of the movies. But the film maker follows them and threatens them. And in the end they find out who made the movies.
That sums up the 90 minute long plot and if you're asking yourself why the hell they didn't make a short movie out of this, I honestly don't know. Some side plots might have made a decent feature film, but of course Elias would have had to cut some of the staring, which takes up 45% of the movie at least. It's almost like watching Twilight, except that's one of my guilty pleasure movies and actually has a lot more action than this one. There are literally only two things I can point out, that are good about this movie. Number one is the cinematography. As with WILD GIRL WALTZ, it is lush. Eye candy really, although in a morbid way. The colours fit the situations, each image looks astonishingly crisp... and that made watching it a little less boring. And then there's Jason Vail, who plays one of the two main characters - he's a real hottie. Whether he's a good actor is hard to say though... was it just his character that was boring and lacked depth, or was it him? Anyway, Nicholas Wilder (the other guy) is much less attractive but definitely a good actor. So much for that.
I feel a little bad trashing this little indie, but there's just as much variety in independent movies as there is in big-budget Hollywood. GUT just doesn't deserve any praise from me, so it's not going to get any more than the few words on the cinematography etc.
IT'S A LIME EXPLOSION!
These two movies were the first "true" indies I saw - otherwise I only watch those who already have a reputation and fan base, such as WINTER'S BONE or FISH TANK. Whereas WILD GIRL WALTZ is a good example for the part of independent filmmaking that truly rocks, GUT is movie that doesn't even roll.