2013 Milwaukee Film Festival Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
4Oct/130

2013 Milwaukee Film Festival #3 – Troubled Youth, Big Brother in Italy, and David Lynch’s Creepy Sex Dreams

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Vanishing Waves

Vanishing Waves (Dir. Kristina Buozyte) – 5/5

Vanishing Waves starts out as if Tarsem Singh took his ideas for The Cell and instead used them to remake Ken Russell's Altered States. Then, around the 1/3 mark, David Lynch and Lars von Trier show up for a guest spot directing an orgy in a dark house where the participants' bodies start literally melding with one another. A guy who looks like Julian Sands is there, watching silently from a chair in a dark corner. If that doesn't sound like something you'd be interested in, disregard the 5-of-5 rating above.

The basic plot of Vanishing Waves concerns a research experiment that allows a scientist suspended in an isolation chamber to make a connection with the mind of a comatose woman (see what I mean?) in order to gain deeper insights as to how the human mind functions in a coma. The borrowing from and nods to other films are liberal, but director Kristina Buozyte isn't interested in horror or a special effects parade—instead we get a story about a man (the scientist) who becomes obsessed with the raw wish fulfillment and idealized experiences this process offers. He becomes despondent with his real life and current relationship, violent when he can't get exactly what he wants, and as the story progresses becomes more and more reliant on his times in this shared sort of liminal space.

3Oct/130

2013 Milwaukee Film Festival #2 – Abortion, Really Bad Activists, and David Lynch’s Deathbed Visions

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Post Tenebras Lux

Post Tenebras Lux (Dir. Carlos Reygadas) – 2/5

Post Tenebras Lux is a mostly boring mess of a movie made all the more frustrating by the immense talent on display doing absolutely nothing. The first two scenes are terrifying and surreal like few things I've seen (maybe what David Lynch sees right before he dies?), and if the movie had kept up that momentum, we'd be looking at the best movie of the year. Hands down. Instead, the emphasis on atmosphere and impressionism gives way to mundane domestic scenes and characters fleshed out barely enough to make us feel like we should care about them, but not enough to enable us to do so.

Carlos Reygadas won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for the movie, something I could understand if the jury was taking the film on an isolated scene-by-scene basis. Certain moments are captivating, but taken together they fail to connect. With a film like this we need the cumulative effect of each sequence to congeal into something meaningful on a larger level—the literal plot elements of the story don't have to connect, but the more cerebral ones do. Post Tenebras Lux fails in this regard so much that even though I was desperate for it to end, when it finally did, bafflingly, I still managed to be disappointed. I gave it a 2 instead of a 1 simply because I keep thinking about it after the fact, though maybe that should have lowered it to a 0.

1Oct/130

2013 Milwaukee Film Festival – ““And then the sasquatch gave me the transcript”

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BannerKyle Commentary BannerMovie madness has come around to Milwaukee again for the 2013 Milwaukee Film Festival, and I'll be checking in here every day through the end of the festival on Thursday, October 10 with capsule reviews and other updates. In the 5 years since it started, the Milwaukee Film Festival has grown to be bigger than even Chicago's, featuring some 240 films from 44 countries. (I will not be reviewing all of them.)

Ratings out of 5 appear for each film, and correspond to what I voted on the ballot for the Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Award.  Please see more of the great artwork above and other highlights of the festival at their official website, and you can see my capsule reviews from last year's festival here.

Brothers Hypnotic

Brothers Hypnotic (Dir. Reuben Atlas) – 4/5

Brothers Hypnotic introduces viewers to the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a group of 8 brothers and half-brothers raised by influential Jazz musician Phil Cohran who have been playing together on the streets of New York and Chicago for years. The film follows them as they record albums on their own label, go on tour in an effort to reach a broader audience (for a time they play under an alternate name with Mos Def), and talk about what keeps them together and playing music.

The movie was especially exciting to see at an early members screening shortly before the festival, as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble played at the opening night party on Thursday. What makes the documentary work is the chemistry between the brothers, who bicker and fight as siblings do, but also seem to have a deeper bond rooted firmly in their music that keeps them going. It's a badly worn cliché to hear about artists who resist commercial success and its trappings because it will “compromise the art,” but the brothers here paint a picture of musicians for whom the music truly is the only thing.