Independent Film Festival Boston 2015 – Day 2: ‘Results’ And ‘Eden’

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The 13th Annual Independent Film Festival Boston 2015 is officially in full swing after last night. Slow West, one of UTG’s most anticipated at the fest, played at Somerville Theater at 7:15pm to a sold-out crowd. Luckily, there’s another showing of the film at 7:30pm tomorrow at Somerville Theater (also, only rush line ticketing now).

The historic Brattle Theater held showings for both of the films that UTG saw last night. First up, Andrew Bujalski’s fitness rom-com/drama, Results. To close up the night (the film got out at 12:15am, I think I’m getting old), Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden made its New England premiere to a solid crowd of moviegoers interested in everything EDM. Come on, there was no way that us at UTG were going to skip a film about music.


Results

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Have you ever been to the gym? Well, if you have then you know about all of the kinds of physical trainers that occupy it. You have the stern but helpful trainer with a little side of explosive anger. You have the walking monument to physical fitness. Seriously, those guys/gals make me feel extremely bad about my own figure. And finally, you have the head trainer/owner of the gym who talks only in motivational sentences and slogans. Andrew Bujalski’s Results takes a look at the high-tension life of those people through the lens of a comedy that balances romance and drama.

Trevor (Guy Pearce) is the enthusiastic owner of Power 4 Life fitness and wellness center in Austin, Texas. Kat (Cobie Smulders) is the young personal trainer who is rough on her clients and obsessed with her own fitness. Danny (Kevin Corrigan) is a divorcee, schlub, stoner, boozer, and recently became a millionaire. After Danny enlists the aid of Trevor and Kat to get fit, a wrench is thrown into the Power 4 Life dynamic, forcing Kat and Trevor to reevaluate their lives.

If you haven’t seen Bujalski’s other films, I can only compare Results to something Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas) may have made. The plot goes by its own rhythmic flow. At one point, you may be extremely interested in the struggles of Kat and Trevor. In another, you may want it to turn everything to Danny because he’s the biggest source of comedy the film offers. Results is uneven, there’s no getting away from that. There’s a degree that this movie goes to where it ends up being a coming-of-age story about adult children. Naivety is fun to poke fun at, sure. To grow up with these main players, at least make them interesting to watch being dynamic.

Smulders does a fine job as Kat. She ignites more than a few laughs as her pent-up anger bubbles up to the surface. The back and forth between her and Trevor (romantically, of course) is as uninteresting as watching Kat try to grow into someone that isn’t vapid and selfish. If anything, her character lives for the pain she causes. That also explains why she uses intimacy as a coping mechanism for her own issues.

Anyway, Guy Pearce is great as Trevor. Trevor is a character that toes the line between reality and believing the own nonsense that comes out of his mouth. No, seriously, his visions of the Power 4 Life future are built on a shaky foundation of lofty hopes and dreams. Kevin Corrigan is the scene-stealer here as Danny. Danny comes to Trevor in the beginning of the film asking him to train him to “take a punch.” Between his bouts of smoking pot and playing his electric guitar in an empty mansion, Danny has real moments of sorrow that Trevor and Kat aren’t able to deal with because their lives are driven by different means. Fitness, of course.

Results’ shortcomings come directly from how it all flows. Bumping to a great pop soundtrack/fitness playlist by Justin Rice, the narrative hangs heavy on the dramatic moments and quick on the comedy. Like Swanberg’s films, it panders and meanders through a series of familiar dramatic beats about the pursuit of happiness. Bujalski takes a risky step by letting these characters run (literally) through the plot, rarely slowing down to reflect or grow.

GRADE: C

Producers Paul Bernon and Sam Slater took the stage for a quick Q&A after the film. Bernon explained how Bujalski went into this film like he always does, including this “30,000 foot-long meta” commentary. They went on to say that the film should function as a commentary on self-help culture. Results opens in the Boston area in June by way of Magnolia Pictures.



Eden

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France in the early 90s was ripe with DJs with breakthrough sounds, totally revamping what we already knew about electronica and EDM. Daft Punk came from that time and place. Now, they’re known worldwide. Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden is as free flowing as the music it employs. Films about tortured music artists are aplenty. But with France, we get to see this interesting underground culture that slowly ballooned into the mainstream. The heartbreak of failure, the euphoria from success, and the drug problems are all there. What’s different is how we experience the story. It’s like the viewer is a band member, seeing everything they need to emotionally react to the material.

Paul (Félix de Givry), a DJ who is credited with the invention of the “French house” genre, is at the emotional centerpiece of Eden. As we follow him from November of 1992 all the way to December of 2013, you are brought along as Paul’s passion for music leads him down a path that will produce happiness and heartbreak.

Eden explores music as an art form that may or may not become a viable career. Paul is constantly criticized by his family and peers that he isn’t making the right decision in life by becoming a DJ. To add onto that, he was close acquaintances with the duo who makes up Daft Punk during their early years. Seeing these other people succeed drives him further into his music, constantly causing ruts in his love life.

Hansen-Løve wades through these underground EDM parties with tact. She pans across the dance floor, juxtaposing Paul’s excited face when the crowd is really digging his music. When things take a dive for the dramatic, she slows down. The editing becomes elongated; focusing in on the grief Paul is experiencing as people become less and less invested in his work.

“Save France with coke!” A line that Paul’s manager yells as they abuse more and more of the drug they attribute their skills to. By the passing of the years, we understand and identify with Paul’s life as a tortured artist. A person whose ego is fueled by how the music scene is accepting him versus how those close to him accept him. If anything, focusing in on the multitude of parties serves how it’s not totally about the drugs, it’s about how they heighten the euphoria produced by such an event.

We have some familiar dramatic beats compared to other biopics, as well. The difference here is that Hansen-Løve succeeds so well in immersing you in this community and scene that you feel like part of the family brought together by a mutual love for music. Paul’s relationship with Louise (Pauline Etienne) provides crucial emotional insight to his love for music.

Eden won’t have your foot thumping; it’s not that kind of movie. It’ll have you pumping your fist in the air with the same effervescent energy the film employs. To me, it’s an endearing look at an olden era, one where music was changed forever. Broad Green Pictures will be releasing Eden but the release date is still unknown.

GRADE: B+

Tonight I will be seeing Patrick Brice’s The Overnight and Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s The Tribe. Check back for my thoughts on those tomorrow. And for cripes sake, go see a movie.

Reviews written by Sam Cohen (Follow him on Twitter!)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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