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Motel Life

November 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Goddamn what a beautiful movie! This film transcends what could be a very typical little indie film. Two brothers looking out for each other against the world. A hit and run that leaves a young boy dead, and our protagonists are on the lam. Heard this story before? Sure, I have too. But the Polsky brothers have wrought such an exquisite little rendering of the tale that this indie gem deserves to be treasured. Two reasons this film not only breaks away from the pack but laps them: 1) Mike Smith’s extraordinary charcoal style rendering of Emile’s made up stories, 2) the performances so masterfully subdued and subtle, they stand out for all these actors.

Dorff and Hirsch kill this film! More on that in a second.

Dorff and Hirsch kill this film! More on that in a mo…

First, the animation. Mike Smith has wrought some of the best animation I have seen in recent years, and its nestled inside a longer live action film where I’m sure it is rarely the focal point. Getting Smith on board turned out to be a coup for the Polsky brothers, because I can see the animated sequences being very jarring and distracting in the wrong hands. The charcoal style perfectly encapsulates the feeling of all the grey, grey skies filmed in this movie. And part of the time those grey skies are filtering through the curtains of the titular motels, furthering the thematic and chromatic similarities between the two.

Second, the performances. Hirsch and Dorff are so damn good I was tearing up by the end of the film. The archetypical response is to liken them to Lennie and George from OF MICE AND MEN, but I have to mention them because the comparison rings very true to me as I sit here reflecting on the film. I first really noticed Dorff as star of Sofia Coppola’s SOMEWHERE, and I wasn’t impressed with that film or that performance. A complete 180 here for me with Dorff! We already know Hirsch is a great actor, but his chemistry with the entire ensemble is crazy. Dakota Fanning as an adult here (Dorff was her younger’s sis Elle’s dad in SOMEWHERE) has come back around to being a great actress again, turning the acting dial back down from where it was set a few years back when she was in her tweens (the Amy Poehler SNL skit days) and coming into her own. And throw in a great few minutes from Kris Kristofferson and you’ve got yourself a helluva flick!

THE VISITOR continues for more craziness unearthed by our friends at Drafthouse films.

—getting ready for more Divine, dan

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