The Lost Weekend is not a typical film festival. Twice a year, host Andy Gyurisin showcases a plethora of independent, foreign, and often undistributed films at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, VA. Patrons travel from across the country and passes (a steal at $35) sell out within hours of being announced. What makes it truly unique, though, is how dense it is. The festival only lasts 4 days, but screenings run morning to night with very short breaks between each. This September, to celebrate the 10th Lost Weekend, there were 30 films total. I made it to 23 of them and these were my five favorites.
1. Night is Short, Walk on Girl
Night is Short, Walk on Girl packs a surprising amount into a 93-minute movie that unfolds over one night. The deep-rooted, delightful charm is undoubtedly inspired by the best of Miyazaki’s work, but instead of merely replicating a perfected style, director Masaaki Yuasa crafts something refreshingly unique. Information is thrown at the audience so fast, there’s barely time to process what’s happening; it’s like Miyazaki on speed. And instead of going for full-on fantasy, Night reaches a surreal quality by focusing on the main characters’ psychological and philosophical insecurities. It’s a meditation on humanity disguised as a vibrant, animated adventure.
2. Blue My Mind
At this point, Blue My Mind hasn’t found a US distributor, and my hope is eventually it’ll at least find its way onto a streaming service because it’s a perfect (and superior, in my opinion) companion piece to last year’s Raw. Mirroring the narrative of Ducournau’s twisted coming-of-age tale, Blue My Mind follows a teenage girl as she struggles to make friends and grow up, all while a terrifying change starts to occur in her. I won’t spoil what exactly happens, but I will say, though it’s not necessarily a horror film, it’s as unsettling as anything in Raw. Lisa Brühlmann’s debut feature film is a beautiful, haunting, and deeply visceral coming-of-age tale.
3. Madeline’s Madeline
This was my third time seeing Josephine Decker’s brilliant, bizarre experimental art film Madeline’s Madeline and the packed festival audience was not prepared for this one, especially hot on the heels of crowd-pleaser teen zombie musical/comedy Anna and the Apocalypse (which did very little for me). Within minutes, I could feel the discomfort like humidity in the air. The fact that one person I sat directly next to absolutely detested the movie while I found it just as great, if not better, the 3rd time around is probably the highest praise. With hints of Malick, Kaufman, and Lynch, yet uniquely structured, Madeline’s Madeline is a bold, beautiful examination and deconstruction of mental illness, representation, and intellectual dominance and ownership.
4. Thunder Road
Jim Cummings’ film, an expansion of his short film also titled Thunder Road, is jaw-droppingly brilliant. The way he blurs the line between comedy and tragedy until it disappears completely is miraculous, especially considering this is ostensibly his debut feature film. There’s some dark, dark material here and none of it is immune from a quick line or moment that’s simultaneously pitiful and hilarious. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can’t wait to see where Cummings’ career takes him.
Thunder Road will be available October 26th on VOD.
5. The Guilty
Asger is a police officer assigned to emergency call response. One night his headset lights up with a call from a kidnapping victim and what follows are 85 minutes of pulse-pounding anxiety. Set entirely at Asger’s office workstation, The Guilty is a high-concept real-time thriller that never leaves the main character. It’s like Locke meets Speed. This is yet another debut feature film; Gustav Möller pulls off the impossible task of making a captivating, nail-biting thriller set in a call center. Not only that, but he somehow makes it visually interesting. A must-see thrill-ride.
The Guilty opens in select cities October 19th.