I came away from my first viewing of Frank Mosley's 2014 feature Her Wilderness nonplussed, questioning whether its tack wasn't to formulate clichéd (albeit good-faith) provocations à la recent 'experimental' microbudget cinema. I expressed my frustrations to Frank, and he responded with a spirited, articulate defense of his picture. And why shouldn't he? Every film should speak for itself, but when a director gets put on the spot, he should be able to stand his ground, say, "Think what you will, and take what you will from my telling you this was my impetus — ..." After that I watched it twice more: which is all it took — both times I thought it was a terrific film. I asked him why he chose to describe the picture as an experimental narrative, that wasn't he only pigeon-holing himself or leading the potential audience, or rather potentially drawing only a certain sort of audience. He replied that if anything, it was more of a way to pre-emptively alert festival programmers screening the submission that they shouldn't dismiss it from having a place in their series.
For me, one of the most impressive aspects of the movie has to be the sound design and mix. It's as though all the voices in the film exist as their own entity, as though sonically the film registers as 3D in 2D: voices as an element of a foreground plane: existing at once in a vacuum but also liberated: body and soul disassociated, and in this separation, a clarity of their unity. You might think of Her Wilderness as a Joe Frank radio episode playing on top of the images, or, indeed, set to images.
The vibe of the movie and, I think, its general theme share an affinity with one of my favorite R.E.M. lyrics: "Whispered with calm, calm: 'Belong.'"
Vignettes interact: late at night or early in the morning a woman teases electrocution suicide in a bathtub after calling a male co-worker she's obsessed with, waking him up from sleep next to his pregnant wife. Her mother slips off a ladder propped against a house while she argues on her cell with the man she left a first husband for. All throughout, a little girl wanders lost in a labyrinth of trees that at last opens onto presumably the same lake shore that borders the older woman's property. A lightning storm erupts; this has been the weather of late: a fuse blew the lights out in the married couple's home.
The child is the avatar —
Water, suicide, birth, death, blood-pressure, yoga, sleep, coffee, eggs, flip-phones, electricity. Rain falls, shadows play on the wall, tree leaves dapple the sun, candlelight flickers on the ceiling above the tub, as soft light flickers cross the face of a wife. An extraordinary opening credits sequence streams for five minutes as letters slowly emerge upon stark white leader as though embossed — the full list of participants atypically placed at the front of the film so at the picture's end all that remains is a cut to white and a fade to black.
Like so many others, I'm really excited about the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens on Thursday/Friday, and I've got my tickets for Friday afternoon. I even tuned in for the live feed of the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles on Monday evening at StarWars.com. It was fun, but there were strange technical difficulties beyond buffering that made what seemed to be an already awkward interview with George Lucas just that much more bizarre. (If viewing from a computer, click to view on YouTube, as Blogger technology is ten-years outdated and won't scale the embedded-version to the content area.)