Here are four films that will screen next month at IndieFest, ranging from excellent to pretty bad. But mostly they’re good. Curiously, the best ones were musically oriented.
This amazing film, like no other I’ve seen, gets to the heart – or more correctly, six hearts – of living in the big city. A New York City subway train stalls in a tunnel, and six riders, all very different in race, age, and experience, get locked together in a car. Aside from the wise and philosophical homeless man (Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and Do the Right Thing), none of them wants to know or care about the others. But slowly they break down and talk about their pasts and fears. More correctly, they sing and dance about them, because Stuck is a musical – originally written for the stage. And yet it never feels stagey. The songs are very good, at least in context. My only complaint is that the closing song is too preachy.
Victoria Theatre, Thursday, February 1, 7:00
B+ Her Magnum Opus
The story, such as it is, is told almost entirely in movement and dance; dialog is rare and inconsequential. Over a period of two or three years, devoted former students visit an aging, retired dance teacher (Aileen Passloff) living in a beautiful home in the country. They eat, party, make love, and entertain their hostess. Often, they dance. And like Fred Astaire, even when they’re not literally dancing, they’re dancing. The movie runs just barely over an hour, and even at that short length, it has its slow spots. But even when it’s dull, something magical is just around the corner.
Roxie, Sunday, February 11, 4:30
In the first few minutes, I thought I might have to give this strange, haunting Iranian film an F. The title character, a rich taxidermist who loves his gadgets and dog, but cares little for his wife and other relatives, is more than just awful and unpleasant (Levon Haftvan). He’s also completely uninteresting. But then he and the dog get locked in his mansion’s extremely secure basement, with no food, water, or way to communicate with the outside world. Slowly you begin to care for this truly awful person as he struggles to survive, tries to get rescued, and deals with memories and hallucinogenic dreams.
Roxie, Saturday, February 3, 7:00
D+ The Misogynists
This low-budget talkfest feels like 85 minutes stuck in a hotel room with an asshole. Dylan Baker plays that asshole, and yes, most of the film is set in a hotel room – on the night Trump was elected. This mean, heartless, and self-centered jerk is delighted, because Hilary’s fall means that men will continue to rule the world. He’s hanging around with an employee – a relatively nice guy somewhat susceptible to his host’s misogyny. The film often feels like a stage play, filled with bad dialog. There are prostitutes, upset neighbors, an angry wife on the phone, a hotel television that turns on by itself and only shows things going backwards, and a gun that we know will be used near the end. If it wasn’t for a handful of funny lines, I probably would have given The Misogynists a D-.
Roxie, Thursday, February 15, 7:00