Clip (dir. Maja Milos)
by Christine Leonard
Twenty-first-century Serbia’s answer to Soviet Russia’s coming-of-age rebel yell, Little Vera (1988), Clip offers a raw and ribald glimpse into the heady passions and violent pursuits of Belgrade’s restless youth. Fifteen-year-old Jasna (Isidora Simijonovic) is caught between depression and desperation as she struggles to come to terms with the harsh realities of her bleak and purposeless life. Escaping a household that is lives under the cloud of her father’s impending death, she finds solace in drinking, drugs and trying to please a boyfriend that just can’t get enough. The unflinching lens captures every nuance as Jasna and her schoolmates film themselves pushing the ideological and societal boundaries of the past over the precipice. Is this Serbian Natalie Wood about to take a fatal plunge, or will she catch herself before she falls?
Fuck the pain away — Peaches said it best. And doe-eyed beauty Jasna couldn’t agree more. Tantalizingly innocent and repulsively gritty, Clip recalls the unsettling underage lust depicted in Kids (1995), but with a Euro-trash edge that echoes the pitfalls of Christiane F. (1981). An American Apparel ad set to a throbbing turbo folk soundtrack, this all-too-graphic film is bound to be banned as child pornography. Although it smacks of exploitation, it’s apparent that the intensely intimate scenes revolve around the willingness of the characters to capture, and thus empower, themselves. Jasna’s handsome and aloof boyfriend is depicted by Vukasin-Marlon Brutal-Jasnic, who is a reputed Serbian rapper/hip-hop artist. Undoubtedly this bestows a certain 8 Mile cool-by-proxy cache to the production, at least amongst rakija-quaffing homeboys.
The Final Member (dirs. Zach Math and Jonah Bekhor)
by Derek Wilson
Penis. At some point in history, the penis has been saddled with the stigma of taboo and perversion. Don’t talk about it and, for God’s sake, don’t LOOK at it. In the small northern town of Husavik, Iceland there lives a collector who aims to change this. What started out as a joke between friends has evolved in to the spectacle that is the Icelandic Phallilogical Museum. For 40 years, the curator has been collecting and compiling an immense collection of cockery containing every type of penis from every mammal on earth except one: the induction of the human penis is all that remains to complete his life’s work. There are those who scoff at the man and label him a pervert, but there are also those who admire what he’s built and are willing to support his Pen-15 club in any way they can.
The Final Member follows two men as they race to be the first to get their own jar of junk up on the museum shelf, one of which expresses a desperate sort of enthusiasm that borders on sheer psychosis as it’s revealed the lengths he is willing to go to ensure his induction in to this manhood menagerie. Both hilarious and horrifying, The Final Member is a endlessly entertaining look into the lives of uniquely eccentric men, each of which holding varying degrees of personal penile obsession.
Part ’50s Corman sci-fi, part indie rom-com, The History of Future Folk is an intergalactic journey of mystery and wonder! When a human-like alien named General Trius (Nils d’Aulaire) travels to Earth from the planet Hondo to unleash a deadly, flesh-eating space virus intent on wiping out humanity, his ship crashes leaving him stranded. As he surveys his surroundings, he comes to discover an Earth concept completely foreign to Hondo in the form of music. Taken by its beauty and thus forgoing his mission, General Trius vows to stay on Earth, start a family and begin playing the banjo in a Brooklyn-based bluegrass band. Truis takes the stage night after night, clad in his standard issue Hondo space suit, a look that fits fashionably between Devo and Buckethead.
When the honchos on Hondo catch wind of this betrayal, reinforcements are sent to ensure the completion of their mission. With reptilian headhunters and folk songs about space worms, The History of Future Folk contains the same goofy earnestness of a Duplass Brothers film and feels like a warm blanket gently placed over your shoulders by tiny alien hands. And inside those tiny hands is a ton of alien blood being pumped by a whole lot of alien heart. What I’m saying is the flick’s got heart. HONDO!
I Declare War (dirs. Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson)
by Derek Wilson
Have you ever wondered what Apocalypse Now would have been like if the entire cast was made up of children? Set in the centre of a dense forest, two teams of kids are involved in an intense, military-themed version of Capture the Flag. At first battling for bragging rights, real life power struggles and old grudges spin the game out of control. The lines between real and make believe become blurred and the conch shell hits the fan. The film is brilliantly shot like a window in to each kid’s imagination. If one of them finds a nicely shaped stick in one scene, we see a fully loaded AK-47 in the next — or a bazooka, if you prefer. The dialogue is exceptional, bouncing between average kids-being-kids hilarity and the blatant profanities of war. After all, “this is war, not fucking hopscotch!” There’s a feeling that goes along with this type of film that has become far too rare in recent times, the kind of no bullshit representation of youth that came with ’80s movies, like Stand By Me, that capture the honesty and whimsy of childhood so perfectly that you feel like you’re watching yourself on screen. Festival gem.
Jug Face (dir. Chad Crawford Kinkle)
by James Brotheridge
In a hierarchy of sins, “defying a pit” doesn’t rank too high. But, it can be a problem if that pit is supernatural, as Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) finds in Jug Face. Ada’s a young lady in a backwoods community that worships the muddy hole in the ground, so much so they regularly sacrifice people to it. Who loses their life is decided by whose face shows up on a jug potter Dawai (Sean Bridgers, Deadwood) makes while in a trance. When Ada –– pregnant with her brother’s baby, but promised to another –– circumvents the latest jug face, she upsets a brutal order, bringing about awful consequences.
The movie’s classification as a horror film is about as iffy as the community’s moonshine-based economy. It’s visceral shocks, often brought on using underplayed and effective special effects, don’t scare but upset. Really, the film is more of a supernatural indie-drama in tone, to which Carter and Bridgers are well suited. Her easy manner, huge and expressive eyes and almost luminescent white skin make her a great lead for such a dirty and tactile world, while Bridgers, playing ineffectual and sensitive, complements her well.
Murders of Courier (dirs. Tom Macleod and Neil Brill)
by Claire Miglionico
Murders of Courier takes us into the tight-knit community of Vancouver’s bike courier sub-culture.
It documents the pros, the cons and the ugliness that comes with the profession. There’s freedom to do whatever you want, drink on the job, rip through traffic and have the “whole city as your office” — “ADD generation at its finest,” as one of the bike couriers describes it.
To them, biking is not just work. It’s also play. On days off, bike couriers come together to play bike polo, race each other and socialize. They’re basically bike addicts with pro-athlete capabilities.
As an extremely physically-demanding job, the hardships do come in. There is that constant possibility of being severely injured or killed on the job. We see most bike couriers relying heavily on booze and drugs as a way to cope with the stressful lifestyle. Most are very close to becoming alcoholics or junkies, if not already.
The vicious circle of the lifestyle get a lot of bike couriers thinking on how much they are willing to endure for the years to come.
In the end of it all, we see that ultimately, freedom pays and that societal pressures get us back to reality, whether we like it or not.
Picture Day (dir. Kate Miles Melville)
by Christine Leonard
Remember picture day? That awkward moment that crystallized an entire school year in one bad haircut, or random black eye? Claire (Tatiana Maslany) is in unlucky Grade 13, but upgrading her marks and participating in gym class is the last thing on her mind. Her mom lives at the bottom of a wine bottle and is incomplete without a man in her life. Meanwhile, everything seems kind of old hat to the wise-beyond-her-age teen with a rather promiscuous reputation. Will seeking the affections of a charismatic, thirty-something, musician free her from a future of babysitting and bingo? Only time and a trip, or two, to the principal’s office will tell.
Take a crash course in remedial puberty. Claire is not a “fat girl” (as teen-flick titan John Hughes once asserted), or a female Ferris Bueller. Rather, the surplus-clad 28-year-old Tatiana “Orphan Black” Maslany seems mighty comfortable in her own skin. As the savvy yet feckless female protagonist, she pines for Jim (Steven McCarthy from the real-life T.O. band, The ElastoCitizens), a Coldplay look-a-like with uneven balls, but he’s in his “Jesus year” and too in love with his own indie myth to satisfy her growing needs. Salty and somewhat jaded, Claire fumbles towards ecstasy and finds the condom-toting, hyper-organized boy next door instead. Not so much Dazed and Confused as bored and disaffected, Picture Day juxtaposes the crisis of multi-generational disillusionment with the simple pleasures of skipping school and smoking pot.
Vanishing Waves (dir. Kristina Buozyte)
by Yana Matusovski
Vanishing Waves marks the second feature film by Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte. As part of the soft science-fiction genre, one too often dismissed by Eastern European filmmakers, Vanishing Waves attempts to design the world of the unconscious. Scientists discover a way to connect the inactive brain of a comatose patient, Aurora (Jurga Jutaite) with that of a healthy subject, Lukas (Marius Jampolskis), as a way of understanding the psychological makeup of the coma victim’s mind. Ultimately, Lukas falls in love with Aurora, a mental projection of a woman he has never met.
The film’s pacing is fluid and believable, with long, tense single takes. However, many characters lack an emotional depth, which causes the film’s dialogue to fall short in being truly expressive — a problem in a film residing in extremely ambiguous territory. Fans of Stanley Kubrick and Gasper Noe will enjoy the lush, drawn out dreamscapes and the film’s symbolism is easy to decipher, for the most part. David Lynch’s excursion into the psyche is mimicked, to a degree, but, despite the film’s somewhat noticeably unoriginal foundation, it redeems itself with a beautiful façade and captivating cinematography, allowing fantasy scenes to embody close to the entirety of the film. Buozyte creates a stunning abstract impression, a story of transcendental beauty, metaphysical romance and the ethical dilemma of scientific research.
By Team BeatRoute