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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


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10th Anniversary: A SERIOUS MAN

"I have never seen a film that mixes laugh-out-loud comedy so intimately with dead serious philosophical questioning. It packs so much into its short runtime. " - Dr strange

"This movie is one of my favorites - Michael Stuhlbarg the biggest reason, he's so heartbreakingly fantastically good in everything." -Rebecca

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Tribeca: The Survivalist

More from the Tribeca Film Festival! Here's Jason on an Irish future dystopia flick.

The Survivalist begins by throwing us - us being humanity - right off a cliff. We watch as a pair of lines - one signaling population growth, the other standing in for oil production - dance around each other like they're in a rough cut of that Chuck Jones cartoon. Up up up they go, until oil, you know, dribbles off, and then wham, it's the yodeler from The Price is Right for all of us.

It's a mercilessly efficient way to say everything big that needs to be said (what multi-million dollar YA tent-poles take their sweet time drawing out) and to then drop us into the small ghostly after-world of the main story, where we mainly deal with the drama of one man, two women, and the well-fortified cabin and garden that comes to stand in for survival, humanity, itself.

Mercilessly efficient isn't a bad way to describe Stephen Fingleton's film as a whole, in that everybody's pretty much past words being of much use at this point - small deals are sussed out, nodded through, but it's action that matters. The minute twitch of shoulders in the direction of a weapon... or even a soft sweet palm of a hand brushing over sharp scruff. Harsh times, and harsh scruff, calls for harsh attitudes, but mercy does exist here - The Survivalist is mighty uninterested in being relentlessly bleak; that road (or should I say The Road) is well-trod by now, and these characters might be desperate people in desperate situations with mud smeared artfully on their faces, but they're also - against their best interests a lot of the time! - striving for what used to be called family.

It's in those minute twitches - not the ones for guns and knives but the ones for skin and communion, for warmth from the cold - where The Survivalist speaks the loudest, and the sweetest. Where you watch someone weigh the pros and cons of just touching, not killing, and that decision elicits its own poetry. The Survivalist is chock-full of that stuff. What survives after everything dies, it turns out, is still an awful lot.

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Reader Comments (2)

Oooh, this one sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out if it ever comes to Chicago.

April 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJamesSmith

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