10 August 2011

COLD WEATHER (Dir. Aaron Katz, 2010, US)

Directed by Mumblecore regular Aaron Katz, Cold Weather is one of the best films I have seen this year. It’s not difficult to pin down what makes it such an exceptional piece of cinema. Firstly, the characters are intensely likable and rather soothing to observe. They don’t get up to much except engage in banal conversations, pause unexpectedly with friends they know and ponder effortlessly. Secondly, plot is of little concern with the Mumblecore crowd. Instead a naturalistic feel for the milieu that the middle class twenty something characters inhabit makes for a compelling mise en scene. Doug (Cris Lankenau) returns to Portland, Oregon after failing to finish his studies and pursue a career in forensic science. He shares an apartment with his sister who seems just as bored to death with life as Doug. Together they make for one of the drollest on screen couples. Doug finds work packing ice at a factory and also hooks up with his ex-girlfriend who mysteriously disappears one night. Her sudden disappearance leads Doug and his sister on a chase through Portland to track her down. Thirdly, Katz has real control over the pacing of his film and the intuitive editing lets us into the world of Doug and his wayward friends with relative ease. Some have cited John Cassavetes as an influence on the Mumblecore crowd but I would say the offbeat cinema of Jim Jarmusch has had more of a pervasive cinematic impact on the likes of Katz. An unexpected but welcoming noir accent also creeps into the narrative in the second half of the film as Doug’s determination to track down his missing ex pokes fun at the detective figure in popular culture. Cold Weather is a sharp, witty and decisively original slice of Indie cinema. It’s indie in the Cassavetes and Jarmusch sense, not the wide eyed, award hungry and superficial indie cinema of Little Miss Sunshine.

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