Each year, hundreds of films are released into theaters in the United States (nearly 700 in 2014, according to the records at Box Office Mojo), encompassing everything from giant blockbusters to micro-budgeted indie releases. As Rochesterians, we're pretty lucky to have some fantastic independent movie theaters which are dedicated to bringing arthouse films to local audiences. Without their efforts, a city our size would typically never get to see those under-the-radar titles that often turn out to be among the year's best films. Still, with the sheer number flooding the marketplace, it's impossible for even the best arthouse theaters to show everything, and that unfortunately means a lot of great films have to slip through the cracks.
Over the next few weeks, The Dryden Theatre will be doing its part to make that number just a tiny bit smaller. Every Friday for the remainder of the summer, the Dryden will premiere a new film that hasn't yet received a theatrical release locally. Challenging and provocative, any one of the films would make for a welcome antidote to the blockbusters currently competing for your dollars at the multiplex. City Newspaper sat down with the Dryden's curator of film exhibitions, Jurij Meden, to talk about the lineup.
A rural region in the northwest portion of Spain, Galicia has in recent years become an emerging source for interesting filmmaking, including for "Coast of Death," Lois Patino's experimental documentary capturing life in an isolated village on the Costa da Morte. With little dialogue, Patino explores the nature and the people of the area, giving audiences a unique sense of place purely through the images he captures. Praising the film's stunning photography, Meden says the film is first and foremost a sensory experience, providing a noteworthy illustration of the ways "cinema can show us things no other medium can." (Friday, July 24, 8 p.m.)
French filmmaker Bruno Dumont's deadpan crime comedy "Li'l Quinquin" follows a bumbling detective as he investigates a bizarre murder in a small seaside town in northern France. His ongoing work captures the interest of a local gang of pre-teen troublemakers on summer vacation, and the youngsters get a thorough education in the darker side of human nature. Originally made as a four-part TV miniseries and later released as a feature, the film is something of a departure for Dumont, who's most known for heavy, dramatic explorations of spirituality, like his "Humanité," "Twentynine Palms," and "Hadewijch." His latest is lighter but just as edgy, playing like "a cross between 'Twin Peaks' and Buster Keaton or Jerry Lewis." (Friday, July 31, 8 p.m.)
A dusty neo-noir thriller with "a little bit of David Lynch" thrown in, "The Frontier" is the feature debut of director Oren Shai. A young woman on the run from the law decides to lay low by taking a job as a waitress in a motel diner, but she soon stumbles upon a heist plot being carried out by the motley collection of guests. Cue back stabbing, betrayal, and mayhem. The film premiered at SXSW in March, with a release scheduled for sometime next year, but it will be screening in Rochester ahead of its theatrical run. As an added bonus, Shai will be on hand for a Q&A following the film. (Friday, August 7, 8 p.m.)
Based on the 1811 suicide pact undertaken by gloomy Romantic poet Heinrich von Kleist and his married friend Henriette Vogel, "Amour Fou" dramatizes the couple's relationship during their final weeks. Finding the morbid humor beneath the despondent pair's plight, Austrian writer-director Jessica Hausner turns this twisted tale into a drolly dispassionate love story that seeks to upend our romantic notions of doomed love. (Friday, August 21, 8 p.m.)
"Sex and bondage and butterflies" are the subject of British director Peter Strickland's rapturously reviewed "The Duke of Burgundy." Exploring the ins and outs of a dominant-submissive relationship with a touch more complexity than "Fifty Shades of Grey," the film uses the central relationship between a meek housekeeper and her lepidopterologist mistress to tell a relatable and surprisingly funny story about love, commitment, and compromise: everything it takes to make a romantic relationship work, even ones with significantly less role-playing. (Friday, August 28, 8 p.m.; Sunday, August 30, 2 p.m.)