GOLIATH: Desperately seeking your beloved pet.
Elusive animals, the mysteries of time past, family conflict, peer pressure, and, inevitably, Iraq dominate what we were able to screen from the robust sixth annual Independent Film Festival of Boston (line-up at www.iffboston.org). What unifies them is their originality, their intensity, and their high quality, all of which confirm that the IFFB is now the top film festival in New England.
Spanish | 90 Minutes | Somerville Theatre: April 25 at 11:45 pm + Coolidge Corner Theatre: April 27 at 10 pm
It all started with a simple act of voyeurism. Or did it? Poor Héctor (Karra Elejalde) is sitting in his backyard when he spots a woman taking off her top. He goes to investigate; before he knows it, he has a body on his hands and is being chased by a stranger whose face is covered with bloody bandages. How will he ever explain it to his wife (Candela Fernández)? And isn’t that himself with a pair of binoculars chatting with her on the lawn? These are just a few of the problems involved with getting transported two hours into the future, and first-time director Nacho Vigalondo makes a virtue of minimal production values as he pursues, with austere, Buñuelesque black comedy, the paradoxes of time travel. Bumbling farce gives way to existential horror as the deeper implications of the process reveals truths about desire, identity, fate, and death that make Héctor a man wise before his time.
86 Minutes | Coolidge Corner Theatre: April 26 at 4:30 Pm + Somerville Theatre: April 28 at 8 pm | Director Alex Karpovsky
The boundaries separating documentary, mockumentary, and pure fiction have become meaningless. Just amuse us, already. In his second feature, Alex Karpovsky tries hard, exploring the real-life controversy involving the recent “rediscovery” of the ivory-billed woodpecker (thought extinct) in an Arkansas bayou. Birders and the media poured in, and the economy of one of the poorest areas in the United States rebounded. Local hunters and loggers, however, weren’t so happy as the federal government closed off a refuge. Into this already fascinating scenario Karpovsky tosses his Candide-like hero, Jonny, a feckless, doggerel-spinning birdwatcher with ambitions of being the first to get footage of the elusive ivory-bill. Trouble is, Jonny has all the appeal of a duck decoy, and despite a clever dénouement, the film doesn’t fly.
96 Minutes | Somerville Theatre: April 26 at 4:45 pm | Director Lance Hammer
Lance Hammer’s minimalist melodrama pushes William Faulkner into the 21st century or relocates Russell Banks from the Northeast to Mississippi. A worried neighbor drops in on twins Darius and Lawrence (Micheal J. Smith Sr.) to find Lawrence catatonic and Darius dead in bed, a suicide. Then Lawrence wanders off and puts a bullet into his chest. He pulls through, but there’s more woe to come, starting with his 12-year-old nephew James (JimMyron Ross), son of Darius and Darius’s bitterly estranged wife, Marlee (Tarra Riggs), who has stolen Lawrence’s gun and gotten mixed up with a gang of crackheads. In the quiet ellipses of Hammer’s detached but taut narrative a backstory of love, betrayal, addiction, and perseverance emerges, disrupting the bleak beauty of the surroundings. Reconciliation and rehabilitation seem impossible for such numb and broken souls, but Hammer’s uncompromising gaze finds hope in small gestures and halting overtures.