Something to Watch: “Victor”

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Have you ever had a moment as a kid where you were completely alone? You know the kind. The one where your mind starts to wonder, your imagination brings the toys around you to life and the characters become a new kind of company. Well, some people have those imaginary adventures well into adulthood.

Enter today’s short film, Victor, the latest addition to the Vimeo Staff Picks playlist and the latest effort from directing duo Yeah Haus.The subject of the piece, a lonely craftsman named Victor, whose story wanders through the themes of “imagination, solitude and the sometimes blindfolded quest for happiness”. It’s a quiet, atmospheric and heartwarming seven minutes. Take a look!

For more about Victor, you can visit the film’s official site.

Something to Watch: “Inherent Vice”

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It’s probably best for me to state my overall opinion of Inherent Vice upfront: I don’t know what to make of this one. It’s got a great visual style, a charmingly incoherent plot and some great performances. But then… Well, I’ll get to that.

The story of this film adaptation of the acclaimed novel concerns a stoner private investigator named Larry “Doc” Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix). Doc is asked by his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston) to look into the disappearance of her boyfriend. What follows is an intentionally disjointed journey, as Doc stumbles into a series of bizarre predicaments and strange coincidences that all have virtually nothing to do with each other.

The movie does a great job of staying true to the 1970’s, the decade in which the story takes place. The soundtrack is littered with licensed music from the era and all of the costumes and set designs feel authentic. The film itself is fed through a grainy filter that subtly and expertly maintains the illusion that your local theater hasn’t gone digital yet.

The film plays out like a hazy memory of a crazy drunken night out. Surreal scenes fade in and out leaving you simultaneously entertained and confused. Phoenix’s disconnected portrayal of Doc also helps with the audience’s sense of confusion.

So what’s my problem with this film? Well, it all boils down to one flaw: the movie is way too long for the material it has, stretching to two-and-a-half hours. In addition to becoming an endurance test for my bladder (by the by, I’d reconsider buying a drink from the concession stand), everything that I found entertaining or charming about this film became very tiresome about an hour before the end credits arrived. The plot never really comes together in any coherent or satisfying way, completely removing any reason for me to care about any of the characters as they reach any semblance of resolution.

Regardless, if you can find your way past that flaw, there’s a lot to like about this movie. At the very least, I’d recommend it for the sole reason that it’s interesting. Go see it if you’re looking for something a little more off-beat and unique.

You can find out more about Inherent Vice at it’s official site.

Something to Watch: “Wild” Review

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“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

The above quote might as well be the tagline for Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. It’s an adaptation of Wild: From Lost to Found, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed. It’s also the most emotionally powerful film I’ve seen this year.

In the film, Cheryl (played on-screen by Reese Witherspoon,) finds her life in shambles and as a result, has been on a streak of self-destructive behavior. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Cheryl chooses to go on an 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. What follows is a long and dif9:Ificult journey of self-discovery, as Cheryl searches to heal from the various traumatic events in her life. Said traumatic events are explored in a series of flashbacks, which are given about as much screentime as the hike itself.

The first thing that struck me about this movie is the cinematography. Vallée takes full advantage of the story’s setting to capture some beautiful landscapes of many kinds from an up-close, personal perspective. A near-constant combination of medium and close-up shots allows the film to maintain a poignant and breathtakingly intimate atmosphere.

That atmosphere is helped immensely by great performances from all involved, most notably from Witherspoon herself. With so much of the movie being spent with Witherspoon alone, it’s a great thing that her determined-yet-vulnerable performance kept me completely engaged throughout. By the end of the movie, I felt a very particular emotion I hadn’t yet felt in a theater. That’s an accomplishment.

When all is said and done, I would definitely recommend that you go see Wild. The powerful lead performance and intimate atmosphere make for one of the most moving cinematic experiences I’ve seen in a long time. Another contender for best picture, for sure.

You can learn more about Wild at it’s official site.

Something to Watch: “Displacement Welcomed”

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Here’s something cool to check out. Filmmaker Evan Kidd and his crew over at RockSet Productions have just released a new short film, Displacement Welcomed. The film focuses on a young woman, Skylar (Avery Hobbs), and her unlikely friendship with a homeless woman named Norma (April Vickery). And you can watch it, in full, right now!

As director, Evan deserves a lot of credit for his work. The 16-minute short does a great job of providing a calm yet engaging environment, and is filled with great cinematography. The story, a tale of two troubled individuals finding solace in each other, is brought to life pretty well by the film’s cast. It’s a nice, feel-good piece that’s definitely worth a look.

You can find out more about Displacement Welcomed by going to the official site. And you can check out the rest of RockSet Productions’ work at their official site.