The Overnight (2015)

Impression:  Having had a kid, and hung out in parks with him, and having moved cities a couple of times, and struggled to make friends in new places as an adult, the opening sequence of this movie was oh-so-relatable.  Being invited to dinner and having a fun time with brand new friends, that’s happened before too. But then, this movie gets a little weird. And funny! What if your new friends with kids were maybe…actually… into swinging. A lot of awkwardness and comedy ensues, as each of the two main characters goes through a different sequence of emotions, from weirded out, to bonded to the hosts (uhm, not that kind of bonded!), to at odds with each other about what they think of all this and what should be done about it. Although it’s really just a silly comedy about sex and relationships, it never gets too absurd (ok, maybe the trip to the massage parlor is a little weird) and the characters for the most part react to the situation within bounds of what would be expected. The humor is born of the awkwardness of the situation itself, rather than mocking it or taking it to some kind of over-the-top absurd conclusion. All in all it’s a low key comedy that’s respectful of its characters and audience, and fun to watch. I’ll still probably have a little smirk on my face the next time I get invited to a dinner after meeting parents at a park .
Facts:  A family newly moved to Los Angeles gets an invite from a friendly dad at the playground for dinner, hilarity and weirdness ensues.
Extras:  I watched this movie because I love the Duplass brothers. I think Togetherness is one of the most underrated and underseen TV shows of the last decade, at least. They specialize in directing, producing, staring in talky low-budget films/series, and they make a ton of them. Glad to see someone carrying on the tradition of what “indie” used to mean in the 90s.

You Carry Me (2015)

Impression:  I really liked how this movie looked, I thought the acting was very strong, and I liked that it’s mostly about strong female characters. But… at almost 3 hours, I think it’s too long: It could easily have been cut in length and not lost the point or the feel of the movie. It’s also too intense. Everyone in it is pissed off all the time. Having a connection to Croatia, I  unfortunately know that this is just the normal state of affairs in Croatia, but honestly it’s why I don’t enjoy visiting so much anymore or reading the news.  It’s like everyone (not just the women) is on a verge of a nervous breakdown.  The film is also a little too ambitious: It tries to do too much, touch on too many issues, and it seems to lose focus towards the end. I liked the first story the best, it was about a woman being torn between dealing with her father’s illness and trying to live her own life at the same time. I thought it was really well done, and well paced, and sweet. It was very different than the later stories, which seemed to pick up in pace, ending with the very frantic, melodrama at the end.  Other than living in the same city, the connection between the characters is that they all work on a set of a ridiculous TV soap opera. Towards the end of the movie the real life relationships seem to actually morph into something from a soap opera. While this was most likely on purpose, I am not sure what the point of it was. The film is also not too subtle about other films it takes ideas from, bird scene from Amour, a little bit of a Y Tu Mama Tambien vibe, the magic realism, a little bit of the Almodovar melodrama, etc…

Facts: Three stories about three women from different socioeconomic strata in modern day Croatia dealing with every day life. And for once it’s not (directly) about war.