Quiet City (2007)

19 07 2008

I must admit feeling that I feel somewhat silly and naive whenever I go about reviewing any film that fits into the mold of ahem, “mumblecore” since the movement itself has eventually become the butt of most Ray Carney-related jokes. However, lumping every low-budget American film of a the past five years into one category seems a little counter-productive. No doubt, the generalization has hurt the movement (if you can even call it that) in the long run. Again and again, we see films about white, middle-class twenty-somethings struggling to find themselves, or something equally abstract. Quiet City falls into this category, but someone, it is also one of the best movies of the century.

Jamie arrives in New York City one night to meet a friend at a local coffee shop. Lost, she asks Charlie for directions, but he seems equally clueless. When Jamie’s friend never shows up, she decides to continue hanging out with Charlie who naturally offers her shelter for the night. The next day, Jamie finds her friends address, but she still cannot make contact. As a result, she continues to hang out with Charlie – in the park, at an art exhibition, and finally, at a party. Their relationship grows, but never reaches any sort of conclusion.

The most immediately noticeable aspect of Katz’s first two films, this and Dance Party USA, is how much more attention he seems to place on the visuals than his peers. Unfortunately, both of Katz’s films are filmed on digital video but somehow, both films are bursting with moments of poetic beauty. It seems that Katz has actually upgraded his camera here, but only slightly. Whatever the case, Quiet City is filled with visuals that unquestionably the most beautiful ones captured on digital video. There’s a more conscious effort here than in Dance Party to find lush images. Not unlike Ozu’s “pillow shots” these images provide the break, so to speak, from the action. Oddly enough, despite the bulk of the film being filmed in the usual DIY shakycam style, the “pillow shots” are photographed with complete stillness. Needless to say, they also look quite beautiful.

On a similar note, Katz also seems willing to let silence intrude on his story, which is another stylistic device that puts him above his peers. The first four minutes or so actually have no dialogue, at all! Of course, it eventually stumbles into a predictable talky sensibility but it is not like that stuff is inherently bad. After all, it is these that make up a majority of the film and it is not as though I was expecting something that wasn’t completely based around small talk. Even within these sequences, Katz manages to bring interesting visuals to the tables as opposed to using the simple shot/reverse shot technique that makes up a majority of these shoestring-budget American films. More proof that Katz is not merely a name to drop in a passing fad, but a legitimately great director. To top it all off, the film is inspiring and not in the way of some phony sports production. It is inspiring because it proves that it is possible to make truly amazing cinema even with such a restricted budget. One can only hope that some day, Katz will get the finances that he so clearly deserves.

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One response

20 07 2008
arkturo

This film is Beautiful

apeanas lo estoy descargando para verla y tenerla.

; )

Que hermoso blog.

Felicitaciones!

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