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August 12, 2021 / barton smock

(films, toward

No matter how in-your-face hurt can be, intimacy doesn’t always get its close-up, and it’s in this unmothered proximity that David Gutnik’s Materna finds the distance to operate. Whether it’s the muscle amnesia of Kate Lyn Sheil’s performace, the gutted mimicry of Jade Eshete’s, the clocked-out but fleshed-in nowness of Lindsay Burdge’s, or the recreated absence that Assol Abdullina motions to from afar, all make of pain a figure fussing over a puzzle abandoned by image.   


Not so much fragmented as multiplied, Grear Patterson's film Giants Being Lonely is an anti-dream of an answer to the delicate interrogations that plague youth with finality. If you touch a baseball, you share a hand. If you speak, it's to more visibly miss being yelled at. The two central performances by Ben Irving and Jack Irving are softly anxious and run into each other tenderly enough that their injuries trade places without, or perhaps before, being hurt. There are no hard tells here. Dinner scenes are an empty win, a baseball field is an orphanage of light, and first dates are halved by the same appetite. While there is something magically small about its final shot, this film isn't really about sticking the landing, but about taking root.     


Robert Machoian's The Killing of Two Lovers captures the vastness of being lived in and knows to leave unnamed that thing that crawls toward the skin with its history of being chosen last and sent first. Clayne Crawford is upfront about his character's distance, and has something so informed physically coursing through his and another's person that even pain would need a moment to look away. Sepideh Moafi and Chris Coy, with Crawford, also bring their bodies into moments that need possessed, and make an already alien gut check of a film into something distilled and movingly abducted.

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