Though my various work commitments kept me from experiencing the full festival, I was able to take in four films at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, and they were all varying levels of good! I’m kind of behind on blogging so I decided to compile all my festival reviews together into one post, so they’ll be short. First up was my number one priority, Obvious Child. Based on the short of the same name, the film stars Jenny Slate as Donna, an aspiring stand-up comedian who loses her boyfriend and her job back-to-back. After wallowing for a bit she allows herself a one-night stand with a cute but fairly strait-laced boy named Max (Jake Lacey), whom she meets at the bar where she performs.
After his parents die, feathery-haired teenager Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) suffers from nightmares. His older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) is left to take care of him, but when one of Jody’s friends dies Mike spies on the funeral and becomes convinced that something weird is going down at the cemetery. After some reconnaissance, he determines that the sinister mortician- known only as “The Tall Men” and played with relish by Angus Scrimm- is stealing corpses for some unknown (but likely nefarious) purpose, and he commands a legion of dwarfish demons who help defend the funeral parlor.
Gradually paced and exquisitely shot, Under the Skin is a strange, dark, and thoughtful story about an alien who hunts unsuspecting single men in Scotland. Johansson is delightfully off-putting in the main role, impressively communicating a sense of the inhuman, aided by a tense, ethereal score and memorable visuals. It’s a little like The Man Who Fell to Earth but with less talking. I wrote a full review of the film for 366 Weird Movies, please head over there and check it out!
Beginning in an almost-real version of the real world, The Congress centers on Robin Wright, playing struggling actress Robin Wright, once-beloved star of The Princess Bride whose career has gone sour after years of missed roles and bad film choices. Now in her 40s, Robin devotes much of her time caring for her sick teenaged son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is slowly losing his hearing and sight. When a cruel producer (Danny Huston) offers her an unbelievable contract, she decides to take it, resulting in her entire self being digitized. Her digital likeness is taken over by a studio conglomerate, which uses it to make new movies starring a younger, malleable, no-personal-melodrama version of Robin Wright, while the real one is no longer allowed to act.
Set in a dystopian version of 1994, The Apple offers a twisted take on the Adam and Eve tale set to a host of dazzling disco dance sequences. In a world controlled by music producer Mr Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) and his glammed-up music group BIM, folk singers Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Alphie (George Gilmour) dream of sharing their nostalgic love songs with the world. Instead, Bibi falls under Mr Boogalow’s spell against Alphie’s better judgment, and in a haze of glitter and drugs she rises to stardom while he sinks into poverty. After a few musical montages they realize they still love each other and Bibi attempts to break away from the totalitarian music industrial complex with the help of some magical hippies.