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Off the beaten track

Indie movies are treasures waiting to be unearthed

A king asks a shepherd how long eternity lasts. He replies that every 100 years a bird rubs its beak on a mountain. When there’s nothing left of the mountain, the first second of eternity is over. This fairy tale is a fine example of our inability to imagine infinity. Young filmmaker David Lowery approaches the theme of eternity with his fantastic romantic drama A Ghost Story. He tells the story of C (Oscar winner Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara), a young couple in Texas. C dies and returns as a ghost to his widow, who cannot perceive him. A whole series of questions arise: What do ghosts do all day? What role does time play for the deceased? This movie probes love, loss and immortality in such an artful and moving way.

In 2013, Lowery caused a stir with his directing debut, poetic and visually impressive crime drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. In 1970s’ Texas, Bob and Ruth are expectant parents turn bad. Even then, the lead actors were Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, playing a couple that is torn apart.

The recently released comedy drama Brigsby Bear is both original and funny. Filmmaker Dave McCary, aged 32, shows how tight pop culture’s grip on its fans can be. James (Kyle Mooney) grows up isolated in a bunker, where his favorite pastime is watching a TV series about a talking teddy. At 25, he learns that this broadcast always had only one viewer – him. Anyone who has ever been obsessed with a series or a media franchise will likely understand what James goes through when his teddy show abruptly ends. But being a true fanboy, he finds a brilliant solution.

Napoleon Dynamite is about a daydreaming nerd living in Idaho with his quirky family. But, boy, is he adept at disco dancing! When this comedy was released in 2004, it grossed a 100 times more than it cost. Give it a shot: either you’ll love it or ... you won’t.

There’s no middling. Have you heard of Maud Lewis? The paintings by the Canadian folk artist (1903-1970) are now worth a lot of money. Her portrait of two lobster fishermen was recently sold for C$45,000. During her lifetime, Lewis rarely got more than C$3 for her colorful pictures of plants, animals and villages. In character study Maudie, Oscar-bound Sally Hawkins portrays the extremely poor artist from Nova Scotia, who suffered from arthritis and lived in a tiny wooden house. The result is a fascinating indie film about a fascinating woman.

A Ghost Story
Ain‘t Them Bodies Saints
Brigsby Bear
Napoleon Dynamite