Thursday, January 23, 2014

mini-film reviews: Bubble and Frances Ha

Bubble directed by Steven Soderbergh

Bubble is a film best enjoyed knowing very little, so I will say very little about it. After reading the two-sentence description on Netflix, I said to Mr. Nomadreader about an hour into this seventy-three minutes film, "when is [spoler] going to happen?" Ultimately, I adored Bubble, but it progressed somewhat slowly. It's not a film all may enjoy. Steven Soderbergh didn't hire actors. The lead, Debbie Doebereiner, was found working at KFC. There was no script. Instead, these untrained actors (who come across as real people, likely because they are) improvised all of the lines from an outline. The result is a fascinating slice of life of a working class town. Much of the film is a snapshot of ordinary life, and while I enjoyed this setup, it did drag at times. The last fiftenn minutes, however, are simply divine. It's worth seeing, but even if it's not working for you--don't stop watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Availability: Netflix streaming

Frances Ha directed by Noah Baumbach

After enjoying Greenberg, the last film in which Baumbach worked with Greta Gerwig, I was eager to see Frances Ha. Sadly, I didn't actually review Greenberg, but I recall loving the combination of its portrayal of slowly accepting the often depressing reality of early adulthood and humor. Both are present in Frances Ha, a script Baumbach and Gerwig wrote together. The titular Frances is in her mid-twenties, living in New York City, working as an apprentice at a modern dance company, and struggling in every aspect of life. She's somewhat dorky, entirely endearing, and often hysterical. I rarely stop a film to write down quotes, but I did so more than once in this film. This film does a remarkable job capturing authentic moments large and small. It's very much a film about real life, which means occasional montages, although they're not your typical montages. In Frances Ha, montages often serve as a way to pass time while acknowledging the ordinary moments of life. It captures the joys and struggles of spending your twenties in New York City, but it also transcends those barriers by tapping into genuine emotions so well. Only a few flawed scenes kept this film from being a perfect 5-star rating, but it is a film I will happily watch again and again.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Availability: Netflix streaming

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