Interconnection is what lies at the heart of Noah Baumbach’s triumphant Frances Ha, and as Baumbach posits, at the heart of life itself. A film that is equally riveting and hard to watch, profound and yet silly, Frances Ha is a story about the challenges of finding a life you can live with, and what it takes to find someone with which to spend it.
Frances (the endlessly charming Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) have been best friends since college. Moving to New York City after they graduated, the duo spends most of their days together completing a series of secretive and silly routines from which they derive untold, personal meaning. Frances and Sophie “are the same person, but with different hair,” as Frances bluntly puts it. Inside jokes are spoken like interjections of a foreign language, only Sophie and Frances can understand. Baumbach intently focuses the exposition of his film on this, very important, relationship. None of the jokes are explained, and neither are their “rituals,” but the connection that Gerwig and Sumner emit is so pure that no heavy-handedness or explanatory dialogue is necessary – Baumbach points his camera (the discussion of the talent behind this pointing will happen later), and lets the magic of the relationship speak for itself. Frances is one of the last “poor” artists in New York, an apprentice dancer at a floundering dance company, and Sophie has lofty dreams of journalism, quickly working her way through the ranks of Reuters. As with most post-collegiate relationships, Frances and Sophie’s interdependence is slowly withering, and Sophie cannot pass up an opportunity to move to TriBeCa. “Alone” and unavailing in her dreams of becoming a famous dancer, Frances must come to terms with adult life, and learn to judge success based on her own happiness, and not the perceived happiness of those around her.
Perhaps the most bi-polar director working today, David Gordon Green has used his eye for natural beauty in films like George Washington and Snow Angels, and something quite else (perhaps devotion to friends) for his more comedic pursuits like Your Highness and The Sitter. In Prince Avalanche, Green’s pensive appreciation of beauty evokes the likes of Terrance Malick (sans magic hour) and creates a tone of otherworldly introspection; heightening the impact of the film.
Set in the summer of 1988 in the backwoods of Bastrop, Texas, contemplative Alvin (Paul Rudd) and the absent minded Lance (Emile Hirsch) work for the state of Texas repainting roads after a massive fire destroyed thousands of acres of woodland. Alvin has been working on the road crew since the spring, and recently brought on Lance as a favor to his girlfriend, Lance’s sister. As the two struggle to adjust, Alvin to the companionship of the dim-witted Lance, and Lance to the isolation of life on a remote road crew, they each discover a unique friendship they once deemed impossible.
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead set a major precedent in the horror film world in not only its re-invention of the living dead (zombies), but with its evolution into a decades long series of subsequent films. Taking the horror genre out of silly rubber masks hidden in the shadows, and into the familiar-faced streets of suburban America, Night of the Living Dead redefined what a horror movie could be.
Night of the Living Dead starts out with siblings Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O’Dea) visiting a cemetery to place a wreath on their father’s grave. Johnny begins to taunt his sister, remarking that the newly buried dead are, “coming for you Barbara.” His taunting becomes deadly serious when a staggering man attacks the two, and knocks Johnny unconscious. Barbara, panic-stricken, and in a state of shock, runs for her life – ending up in an old farmhouse. Horrified at the dead homeowner she finds inside, Barbara becomes crippled with fear (where she remains for the rest of the film). Shortly thereafter, Barbara is joined by Ben (Duane Jones), an out-of-towner looking for refuge. He boards up the house to the best of his ability, and the two try to weather the storm of the undead, hoping to survive until dawn.