Somebody's Mother - Gabriela Tollman
The power of a filmmaker is best estimated by the ability to make a close-up work. And not just any close-up, but the extreme close-up, where you've largely thrown aside context in favor of texture, connection. Dreyer's legendary The Passion of Joan of Arc features this to maximum effect, and few others have been as good at it. Somebody's Mother manages a rare double. First, it does the extreme close-up really well, and that imparts emotion. Second, it gives us texture, grain, grit, and sorrow in a world whose sun seems just a little dimmer than our own. This is a film that deals with the challenges of motherhood, of loss, of not belonging, disconnection from others, and themselves. It's a difficult role for the stars, Evelyne and director/actor Gabriela Tollman. The film's toughness is supported by a haunting beauty, and strong performances of material that seems both utterly real and fantastical at the same time.There are some moments when things get a little too heavy, when is crashes in a bit too much, and it's overwhelming, which lead me to lose the thread, but I never lost the awe and weight of the material, nor my appreciation for what these actors manage to create. A wonderful, and difficult film.
Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends - Quincy Rose
There are a couple of ways to look at this film. It could be a sex comedy; a film built around the difficulties of relationships, and how sex is often the defining thing within, and outside, of 'em. It could be a relationship drama that just happens to have questions of sexual fidelity at it's heart, and a dirty dirty mind to go with it. It could simply be a buddy picture, designed to show off how relationships between friends can sour for various, sex-enhanced reasons. All of these are valid readings of the material, and there are good reasons for that. The script doesn't over-commit itself to making a statement. Instead, it allows itself to explore all these aspects, pretty much simultaneously. That is a feat worthy of praise, and what more important, it does them all very well. There's comedy that's funny (and cringe-worthy) and there's real conflict and drama. There's a beautiful series of interactions, and there's a difficulty between the men and women, perhaps a stiffness is the best way to see it, but when characters of the same sex interact, things are very naturalistic, which is a nice touch. The bookending of the story is smart too, and the pacing just flat keeps you in it. Well-worth watching out for.