IR Film Review: COHERENCE & BUZZARD [Sidewalk Film Festival 2014 – Birmingham, AL]

The element of smaller film festivals like Sidewalk in Birmingham, Alabama speaks to the essence that films that miss the big film festivals for one reason or another needs to find a place to exist and grow, At this year’s event, Oscilloscope Laboratories, a distributor who is finding the balance between theatrical and on-demand releasing, continues to test the waters with genre pushing and eccentric tastes.

coherence
Coherence  This film is a true find. Introduced as directed by the guy who wrote “Rango”, the animated Johnny Depp lizard picture, the placement was understood but the logline lacked the ability of what ambition lied within it. What unfolded was much more deliberate and unsettling. Using parallel realty creation based around the close approach of a comet, the idea becomes well detailed with the use of absolute and misdirected logic that moves back and forth in time without the notion of time travel. As a result, even though the dialogue gets a little bit heavy and unreasonable at times, it never ventures farther beyond rational phsyics and the dramatic fluctuation which allows people to see different facets of themselves on different plains. What is effective is that this all takes place inside one house or different versions of the house. The motivations of different versions of the characters are not clear not need they be yet each house informs the other. The lead character lost in the misdirection her life has becomes exists in a foggy reflection turning toward her own destruction. Her actions are not unreasonable though they create a finality of paradox. The final moments have a reflection of self that is both extremely dark but telling because the notion of getting what you want always has consequences because of how you acted upon it. “Coherence” is a steadfastly precise piece of filmmaking showing that a high concept, even low budget, can be executed phenomenally with nothing more than in-camera misdirects.
buzzard
Buzzard  Moving in the completely opposite direction like an anti-“Napoleon Dynamite”, our protagonist Martin in this picture lacks a discretion of being. The truth is that both of these films exist in a place of existential angst: one literal and one figurative. With choices with these kinds of characters, there is nowhere to go but down. Like the drifter of “Buffalo 66”, the lead here is a victim of his own ambition. There is a bit of Alex (as played by Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”) in this as indicated by the slovenly consumption of spaghetti like a lost Brutus believing his own hype. But unlike either of these seminal characters, Martin doesn’t see the irony in his existence. He simply keeps offending in the way he knows how which is not fully criminal but moves closer as he goes along. Simple props like the video games or an altered controller with Freddy Kreuger claws figures into the degregation. There are moments of pity (“Requiem For A Dream” comes to mind) where you can see him grasping out before he falls back on his old wares. The compassion yet berating nature of his work colleague who lets him hide out in the basement reflects a notion of pathetic existence which is somewhere between our digital existence and a former analog world. The resolution ends with a metaphor (somehow existential again) where the soul has left us but the body still remains. “Buzzard” has an interesting psychological dilemma at heart which the character never learns from but that is part of the point.

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