Tag Archives: Indie

Filmmaker Saul Levine’s Early Work Showcased At Harvard Film Archive

12 Sep
A still from Saul Levine footage. (Courtesy)

Back in the mid-60s, while sailing in the New Haven Harbor, Saul Levine and a couple of friends goofed around, jumping from a buoy to the moving boat and back (the aquatic version of parkour).

Levine had brought along an 8mm camera and wanted to shoot his pals’ antics. One suggested that Levine would best be served by the higher vantage point of the 8-foot buoy, so literally, Levine took the creative leap, but didn’t make it, nor did his camera, which also went in the drink.

Figuring all was lost, Levine developed the film out of curiosity. What came back were abstract images: turquoise swirls punctuated with the burning white blur of the sun and a few discernible images of his friends atop the buoy. Levine spliced it all together in a stark montage and made what would be his first “experimental” film, “Salt of the Sea.”  Continue reading

“Digging for Fire” and “Meru”

28 Aug

Two of the films opening at Kendall Square this week, while very different, record ordeals of perseverance, braving the unknown and strength of bonds. The first, from prolific mumblecore maestro Joe Swanberg, “Digging for Fire,” explores a couple in transition, hoping to validate their young union as well as plan for the future. Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt) housesit a small mansion in a secluded suburban valley outside L.A. They’ve recently transplanted from Minnesota with their young son (conveniently, for plot’s sake staying with rich grammy and grandpa played by Judith Light and Sam Elliot) and are looking to begin their second lives (he’s a teacher and she’s a yoga instructor, and for ideological reasons they long eschewed economic responsibility), but something’s not quite right between them as they flounder forward, and it doesn’t help the air of tenuousness that they’re supported by her parents.

082715i Digging for FireOut of the earth rises a needed jolt when Tim discovers a gun and a bone poking out of a hillside.  Is it human or animal? Without an active case, the police aren’t all that inclined to investigate, but Tim, ignited by his imagination and his need for a tax-filing procrastination, keeps digging. Lee doesn’t share Tim’s curiosity and, despite some killer house parties and much merriment, the two drift further apart, so Lee is doing her own thing while Tim hosts digging parties with his immature, boozed-up posse. Eventually, each principal ends up with a fetching member of the opposite sex. For her, it’s the charming Orlando Bloom, who should’ve been doing more films like this long ago; for him, it’s a nubile waif (Brie Larson) hanging out at one of the house gatherings.

Continue reading


5 Jun

Sometimes having everything makes you empty. Such is the paradox explored in Andrew Bujalski’s “Results,” part fable, part human experiment in desire, fears and means, and perhaps the most offbeat love triangle to grace the screen since Joe Swanberg’s brew-mance “Drinking Buddies.” It’s an apt comparison too, with Swanberg a stalwart of the mumblecore filmmaking movement and Bujalski long considered its godfather with such lo-fi (and low-audio) efforts as “Funny Ha Ha” and “Computer Chess.” With “Results,” however, Boston-born and Harvard-educated Bujalski goes upscale with some A-minus-list actors and a bigger budget – although what that figure is seems to be a secret to all but Bujalski and the NSA.

060515i ResultsBujalski’s first film cost just $30,000 to make (it grossed about $75,000) and starred no-name actors; here he’s blessed with the reliable Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill in the “Avengers” movie and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television series) and character actor Kevin Corrigan (“Superbad” and “Goodfellas”) who steps to the fore and delivers a knockout performance. “Results” is based on the well-being fad, in which everyone wants to get physically and emotionally fit and fortified. Danny (Corrigan) newly and painfully out of a marriage he didn’t want to exit, transplants to Austin. He’s doughy, rich and angry. He also wants to be able to take a punch, so he signs up for a personal trainer at Power for Life, a boutique health spa run by Trevor (a gaunt and toned Pearce) who pushes the philosophy that wellness is more than physical beauty, even though his crew of crack coaches look like magazine cover specimens. The upbeat but aggressive Kat (Smulders) gets the assign and spends time at Danny’s palatial spread trying to get him lean and buff, but he drags her down into his routine of single-malt scotch and weed. Turns out she’s a bit depressed and angry too. If there’s a deadbeat client, Kat’s more than happy to switch over to into loan collector mode, and boy can she run – look out Lola, she’s on your tail.   Continue reading