Back to covering the Nashville Film Festival, I saw three movies today that were all worthy of eyeing. One was strange, one was good and one started out harsh and ended up brutal….
H.: H. tells the story of two couples in Troy, New York and a meteor that explodes in the sky and affects the town in strange ways. This film was poetic and impressionistic and loosely hung on Greek mythology — the women in both couples are named Helen, a black horse is sighted every time a strange phenomenon occurs, the massive stone head from a Greek statue of a woman mysteriously floats down a river. The film touches on children and the loss of children as well as the confines of marriage and monogamy. The acting, dialogue and cinematography are all pretty seamless here, but if you’re a big fan of tidy endings and structured plots this is not the film for you. I found it to be a lovely, melancholy, meditative exploration and gave it 4 out of 5 in my Audience Choice voting. Fans of Blonde Redhead will find a lot to like here.
Country – Portraits of an American Sound: A local-centric production made in cooperation with the Country Music Hall of Fame, Country tells the evolution of American country music as a sound and also as visual expression, covering the costumes, stage sets, and hairstyles that have defined the music’s image. The film also celebrates the photographers who’ve documented the music’s ever-changing look. It’s an apt history of the music and a revelatory exploration of the genre’s visual evolution. The film’s Achilles heel is its jumbled organizing and the too-long coda that ends the flick. A trip back to the editing room would’ve encouraged a 4 for my Audience Choice vote. As is, I gave it a 3.
The Tribe: The Tribe was described by the Nashville Scene as the “most disturbing” film at the fest. Jason Shawhan killed his programming of the Spectrum selections of edgy films at the fest this year and most of the movies I saw just happened to be his picks. Shawhan introduced the movie as having no voice-overs or subtitles and being presented entirely in Ukrainian sign language. Tribe tells the story of a teenage boy going to live at a boarding school for the hearing impaired. Upon arrival he’s introduced to the intense social hierarchy that dominates student life at the school. At first, he’s ostracized as the new guy, but he shows his mettle and is accepted into the gang’s inner circle of thievery, drug dealing and prostitution. Tribe is like Lord of the Flies without talking. There’s not even any music in the film. The movie starts rough and ends brutal, and it features long sex scenes, lots of physical violence and even a gut-wrenching abortion scene. The last scene in the movie is one of graphic revenge. The Tribe is a must-see if only for reminding every young filmmaker at the fest that your story should be told visually and it should make sense and move viewers even if it’s told in Ukrainian sign language. I gave The Tribe 4 out of 5. The Tribe screens one more time on Friday April, 24 at 1:15.
This NSFW trailer for The Tribe should make you want to skip work to get to the final screening this Friday…