"The premise is simple" too for the first feature by co-directors "Bingham Bryant" and "Kyle Molzan." With names like Silk Road pseudonyms, the pair tell a story (pause: —— unlike Bryant and Molzan, the directors of movies tentpoled by social-realist or biopic premises are first and foremost lauded on the pretense of "telling stories"; i.e. are, to use a fake street term, all about the pla$ma) of two '10s twenty-something sleuths operating surveillance bunked up in Port Clyde, Maine's historically preserved Porter House ("built in 1820. It was occupied by Russell W. Porter an astronomer and arctic explorer. It is offered as a summer vacation rental.") with the charge of monitoring sundry spy-cams in surrounding woods to monitor for forest fires ( — no, only one of the two girls, the main character, Helen, played by Rosalie Lowe, can be said to have the charge, such as it is) — Helen's tech acumen's sharp, she is not real, or comes from a rare ethnographical corner of study, or is made unreal by the Porter House second-floor nook... — It's her hunter-stand LOL. [silence] And from here, among old monitors and plugs, she discerns patterns in the woods-images surveillanced-cam'd (the "watching for fires" pretense was duh duh doy), presenting themselves as something like Brakhage's The Wold-Shadow, where the concentration here is permuted to extrapolate market fluctuations and divine whatever off the cadence of high speed trades. Helen says she receives checks every day. Significant checks. She's brought a pixie-haired girl named Charly? Charlie? Charli? on-board as a summer-job assistant to assist in oracling; the actress's name is "Anabelle LeMieux" and her pedigree is obviously Alsatian. The entire film, shot in 1.37:1, parallels the shaggy dog idiom of contemporary Japanese literature. Tous les filles aiment Murakami H. Mais elles n'aiment pas Murakami R., ajoutait l'américaine... The score is by one Keiichi Suzuki, and is very Japanese electronic, beautiful, a passing through Takako Minekawa, as her millions of American fans will admire.
But Charli? Charly? (I like Charli XCX and I like Isild Le Besco's second feature Charly), whatever, reads at breakfast the Kôbô Abe novel The Ark Sakura, which you can wiki and decide which elements in the synopsis might be relevant to this film, though none evidently press. Charlie wanders the bush, and speaks on walkie-talkie to a boy in code. "Orange." "86 the communiqué..."
Let's say she's pre-ambition, pre-historic in the way that an herbivore roamed the earth. She brings crabs back from a local grocer, and one of the beautiful moments of the film is her perfect fuck-you-no to Helen as to whether they should be placed in the freezer, followed by a punctuating cut. Well, this moment gets better with every viewing. Neither I, nor she, probably knows enough about crab storage, but her indignation glides over those shells like the "VA" in the Sony "VAIO" logo (that's the analog part; the "IO" is 1/0 = binary; mad thanks to Jason Earle for pointing this out to me this week). It's LeMieux's best moment in the film, besides a fantasy acting-exercise fight between her and Lowe in an attic.
No results are ever portrayed re: the rise or fall of markets.
Complicated on screen? Maybe. Not as much as Shane Carruth's Upstream Color (which has the best plot of the last ten years, despite its publication-characterization of a navel-gazed 'let it mean want you want' thing, like it's all an equivalent to the bald guy on acid splitting to the desert in Flirting with Disaster. Upstream Color's the film with the greatest pure, attentive, and lucid plot since I don't know when... — just don't say Paddy Chayefsky, who neither an auteur nor a good scenarist be'd).
For the Plasma pisses on Paddy Chayefsky's principles. Where Lumet would indulge Dame Wendy Hiller, Bryant and Molzan film a lighthouse (the English so often encomiïze Woolf but it takes Foreigners to invoke Orlando), and while other millabouts dream of Porter's observatory, Bryant and Molzan whoosh-in two Japanese in Lynchian incongruity with the Brilliant Girl and Her Shaggy-Dog Duh-College-Grad-No-Duhideambition Assistant to splay Hubble photo prints with no more proposition than, to paraphrase "Revolution 9": "Take this, sister — may it serve you well."
Surface bits of it call to mind Rohmer's Conte d'été, which should have been titled in its recent US circulation Summer Tale, and not "A Summer's Tale." Anyway, certain shots, the 1.37:1 framing, all very beautiful. Maine is not the summer of the rest of the country, it's much more civilized, as with the summers in Rohmer. Nothing of this film speaks or feels of the plague-humidity since global warming crept in, and so hopefully that means Maine is still immune. Like in Rohmer, dialogue zings: the women are articulate, and can enunciate words, and do not come off stooge-like or wishy-washy as in the majority of independent American films of this era. They speak in full sentences and could write a competitive essay for graduate application to Radcliffe. Intelligent dialogue, intellectual actresses: For the Plasma is a welcome rebuke to an "idea" of Mumblecore (which is not the actuality of those films often categorized as such).
Delivery of dialogue is straight-eyed-flat: my friend Jessica called it "monotone," not totally pejoratively. I knew what she was talking about. We're trying to figure out the deal with this progression: Hal Hartley -> Dan Sallitt -> Whit Stillman (did you know David Shafer, who wrote this year's excellent Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, is Stillman's cousin?) -> Ignatiy Vishnevetsky -> Bryant/Molzan — is it monomanneredcore? manneredmonocore? Was it reactionary or 'aesthetic,' a (mis)understanding of Straub/Huillet or Oliveira? Well, really who cares.
When Lowe pauses and inhales throughout all the mannerist dialogue delivery (cf. Garrison Keillor's repetition of words in his oral expostulations: "And Jimmy went down to the creek, and the, the water was crisp, chill, you might even almost say it bit his, his bare ankles, kind of a, an unexpected bite..."), I think it's the only solution for this kind of vibe and material, and thankfully she's humming with intelligence. Having seen this film twice, I can't tell whether it's the core, or the flaw, of the thing that among the two leads one exudes "master" and the other "neophyte."
(Rohmer again, via Bryant/Molzan: Fashions of Lowe which are a collision between the '80s, '90s Rohmer in the ass, and modern, and therefore out of time, timeless..)
In the movies of late it's ALWAYS a secret corporation, we're in the era in which the corporation is a person.
But Rosalie Lowe: Scot? Jew? too stunning and interesting to allow me to really concentrate on anything in this film as I watch it. I don't care about the intricacies that motivated the systems-novel-distance scenario, the "story to tell" (as others might say, though Bryant and Molzan are too clever to moulder around such mulch), — here is one of the new stars: Pienta, Goldhor, Lowe, and Medel, "you're all fighting the same battle," so be kind to each other as you claw to the top.