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Faults (2015)

14 Jun

“When you are awake you think more, but when you are tired you feel more,” explains Ansel to his sleep-deprived hostage, Claire. “So I’m forcing you to stay awake so you can feel what I am trying to say to you.” Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) is a former authority on cults, mind control, and brainwashing. He spends his days on the road, trying to sell his latest book at a series of dead-end hotel conventions. He eventually is confronted with two parents (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) whose daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has ran away to join a mysterious cult group called Faults. Desperate to have their daughter back, they offer Ansel 20 grand if he can effectively de-brainwash their daughter from this newfound religion. Strapped for cash after a recent divorce, Ansel takes the job.

Faults starts out as a dark comedic piece brought on by Ansel’s quirky and awkward mannerisms. Surprisingly, the comedy then slowly gives way to a dark crime drama and then full-on psychological thriller. It’s a film that’s deeply felt and experienced rather than simply viewed and is sure to leave its subconscious mark in the brain long after the credits.

First time director Riley Stearns does a great job bringing out some killer performances from a pitch-perfect cast of actors. Most of the film revolves around our two leads trying to pry open each other’s brains, which triggers a psychological meltdown in the final act. It wouldn’t work so well without some exceptional acting, but fortunately the performances of Orser and Winstead are both knockouts.

The film does drag somewhere at the halfway point where the dialogue wears a bit thin, but for the most part Faults is a stimulating puzzle capable of leaving you laughing at one moment and horrified the next.

Bottom Line: Expertly mixing tone and genre, Faults is a darkly satisfying indie mindfuck sure to please those looking for something different.

 

Screenshot 2015-06-07 22.03.29

Rating: 8/10 

 

Film Recipe: Upstream Color (2013), + Sound Of My Voice (2011) + Coen Bros

Buzzard (2015)

6 Jun

Richard Linklater‘s seminal debut Slacker introduced a new kind of anti-hero into the world of indie cinema. A weird mix blend between bum and punk, these jobless but idealistically carefree characters live from one moment to the next without any regard for modern societal structures aka – “The Man”.  Almost 25 years later, and the slacker persona is still going strong, albeit in a the form of our metalhead protagonist Marty (Joshua Burge).

Directed by Joel Potrykus, Buzzard  is a sort of reincarnation of the early 90’s mumblecore. While the film feels ridiculously low budget, Potrykus takes his serious DIY attitude to the filmmaking process and his passion for his characters shines through.

Marty is your ultimate deadbeat. He is a temp at a banking chain where he spends his time trying to cut corners and make a spare buck or two by stealing company supplies and reselling them at OfficeMax. His seemingly only friend is coworker Derek (played by Potrykus), a videogame obsessed manchild living in the self-proclaimed “Party Zone” which is really just code for his parent’s basement. Things get hairy for Marty when a scheme to cheat his company out of a few bucks pathetically backfires and forces Marty to be on the run from the law.

Buzzard is a film teeming with brilliant, original, and often hilariously awkward and confrontational ideas about anti-capitalism and deadbeat culture. The cinematic execution of these ideas is where Buzzard falls short. Potrykus is a very gifted writer and his enthusiasm for his characters is obvious. However, his moments on-screen as a character are mostly awfully-acted and the bromance between him and Burge fails to resonate. Buzzard is an amateur production and it sadly shows in everything from the makeup to the lighting to the editing.

However, there is something uniquely charming about Buzzard and especially Burge’s portrayal of Marty that makes the film a compelling watch. It starts of with a bang of energy set to heavy metal that gently escalates into violence. The third act surpassingly makes a sad but sincere attempt at bringing out the emotional core of the story; it would have worked perfectly if the film had been given a solid editing treatment.

Bottom line: If you can stomach the student-level acting and production, Buzzard is an authentically funny entertaining film reminiscent of early 90’s indies. It also showcases huge potential for director Joel Potrykus and actor Joshua Burge.

Rating: 6/10

Film Recipe: Napoleon Dynamite (2004) + Clerks (1994)