SIFF Double Feature – Burkholder and Another
Burkholder: Teddy (Bob Burkholder) has been renting a room from Barry (Britt Crosley) for the past 15 years, and now that he is approaching 90, he wants to continue living his life to the fullest. He just doesn’t have much time left to mess around. Barry has enjoyed living with Teddy, but is starting to get worried about Teddy’s escalating mental deterioration. He wants to support his friend, but is worried about being able to take care of Teddy if he gets much worse. Barry is getting older himself and leads a much more conservative life than his friend. Teddy’s continued interest in the ladies, desire to learn a new instrument, and determination to attend a wilderness retreat cause Barry nothing but consternation. In an attempt to get Teddy to realize the extent of his problem, Barry hires a marriage counselor to help them come to some sort of equilibrium. Teddy thinks it’s kind of weird, but he goes along with it to explain his position.
I really enjoyed this film. Like most people, I am used to a certain level of quality for a feature length film, and the very lo fi vibe of director Taylor Guterson took a little getting used to. Once I just relaxed and embraced the aesthetic, I started to get into it. The performances are a little uneven, and the plot can wander a bit, but the actors are very engaging and I found myself charmed by the whole endeavor. Teddy’s struggle to maintain not only his independence, but his ability to keep growing as a person long past the age when most folks think it is time to start winding down, is what gives this movie it’s appeal. He’s always looking to be more, even as dementia starts to take hold. Britt Crosley has a somewhat thankless role as Barry, who at times seems like he is just raining on Teddy’s parade out of spite or jealousy. But in the end, it becomes clear that whatever Barry’s faults, he is motivated by love and concern for his friend.
Burkholder plays May 17th and 18th at the Harvard exit and May 22nd at the Lincoln Square Cinemas.
Final Grade: B[vimeo 92162685 w=630&h=354]
Another: Heavily influenced by Italian giallo films, Another is the story of Jordyn (Ana Paula Redding), whose Aunt Ruth (Nancy Wolfe) stabs herself at Jordyn’s birthday party. Turns out, Aunt Ruth has a few secrets and one of them is that Jordyn’s mother (Maria Olsen) may not be as dead as everyone has been led to believe. Jordyn starts experiencing time shifts and what appear to be hallucinations; she finds herself wandering the streets in a t-shirt and underpants and having sex with the janitor at the pharmacy she works at. As she tries to unravel the mysteries of her new nightmarish existence, more of her aunt’s secrets are revealed and it becomes clear that any legacy Jordyn’s mother may have left her is fraught with danger. Who is Jordyn really and why does everything seem to be going to hell?
I’m not sure anyone unfamiliar with gialli is going to get a lot of what this film is referencing; Director Jason Bognacki is not so much letting himself be influenced by it, as he is trying to create his own version of the Italian-style horror film. (For those unfamiliar with giallo horror movies, style is often emphasized over plot coherence, women often feature prominently as witches or other supernatural entities, and sound is an integral component of the overall film design. This is the most basic of descriptions, but should get the novice viewer through the film.) The visuals are of paramount importance here, and there are some amazing sequences that are both beautiful and horrific. Most of the digital effects did not work for me at all though, and during the most obvious moments, there wasn’t a single scene I thought even needed them. Mostly they just took me out of the story and made me feel I was watching a much cheaper film.
Like an old-school horror giallo, Another is filled with over-the-top, operatic performances; some which work, and some which do not. Long passages of the film were confusing, and it was difficult to tell what was really happening and what was a hallucination. But unlike a lot of gialli, the plot was coherent, and in the end I understood what was going on and to some extent why. (Usually in a giallo, I’m pretty happy if I ever even get to figure out who the knife-wielding maniac is.) There is enough to like here that I am going to recommend this film, but I wonder what the non-giallo experienced viewer is going to make of it. I say see it anyway. If you like it, there is a whole world of films waiting for you.
Another plays May 17th and 18th at the SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Final Grade: B-